Girlguiding Greater Manchester West Volunteers Recognised by High Sheriff for Community Kindness

Volunteers from Girlguiding Greater Manchester West receive High Sheriff Award for commitment to the Comfort Bag Scheme.

Eamonn O’Neal DL, High Sherriff of Greater Manchester West, recently recgonised Laura Keller, Chris Rimmer, Sue and Amy Fraser, Rachel Curwen, and Alison and Lucy Forshaw for their outstanding contribution to the community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Members from across Girlguiding Greater Manchester West – who last year were honoured with a Queen’s Award for their dedication to the scheme – have been adapting the Comfort Bag Scheme to provide essential items to patients and families, as well as creating Kindness Bags for NHS staff who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe.

Chris shares: “It was a total surprise to receive the High Sheriff recognition award. I feel as though the award should be shared between 1st Ellenbrook Brownies, the unit team, the local community and St Mary’s Church. Without everyone’s contribution we would not have been able to make 600 comfort bags and 110 Kindness Bags.”

Sue commented: "My daughter, Amy, and I were honoured to have been nominated and recognised for the 1000 laundry bags we were able to make with the help of our sewing friends. We also continued to make the Comfort Bags for patients; receiving messages of thanks from their relatives was very emotional and uplifting. Sending bags to a local care home was a highlight for the residents and we're happy to have brought a little comfort to their life; the appreciation shown by the staff made it even more uplifting. The bags that we recently sent are just an addition to our ongoing contribution towards the Comfort Bag Scheme, initiated by Pat Mayle."

The scheme began after leader, Pat Mayle, attended a Bereavement Support group at Salford Royal Hospital in 2015 and heard they were short of comfort bags for people unexpectedly having to stay overnight. Later, rolled out as a region initiative in Girlguiding North West England in 2016, the little bags of comfort have reached over 17,000 bedsides, shelters and refuges, providing comfort in times of need. As a result of the kindness spreading rapidly at this time, the leading girl’s organisation in the North West believes they’re on their way to reaching the 20,000 milestone.

Lucy Forshaw - speaking on behalf of herself and her Mum, Alison - said: “To receive recognition for the Comfort Bags is such an amazing feeling. It really means the world to us and will forever serve as a reminder of all the amazing people who came together, even when we had to be apart, to help others in a time of desperate need. It is through the kindness shown by our fellow Girlguiding members that we were able to bring a smile to the faces of those who needed it most.”

Meanwhile, Rachel shared: “It’s so lovely to receive the award – although it’s not why we do Comfort Bags – and to hear they’re appreciated. The leaders and community in Timperley have once again been instrumental in helping sew bags and in donating content, while our girls have still been making up labels and dropping them of on their daily walks.”

Ann Healey, County Commissioner of Girlguiding Greater Manchester West shared: “I am so very proud of the tremendous volunteers who have been recognised for their kindness during the pandemic period. Their well-deserved award really showcases the togetherness and true spirit of guiding and how our kindness really does extend to our communities. Guiding is all about friendships, support, and positivity, which hasn’t stopped despite the circumstances.”

Julie Walton, Region Chief Commissioner, shared: “It has been so heartwarming to see the commitment and dedication to the Comfort Bags Scheme and to see how members haven’t hesitated to support. It highlights the true resilience and positivity within our volunteers and shows just how contagious kindness is. We feel honoured to be able to support local hospitals and NHS staff who are doing an incredible job of keeping us safe every day.”

Well done to all members in Girlguiding Greater Manchester West, who are dedicated to the Comfort Bags scheme and to supporting those in need.