Top accolade for city’s Girl Guiding stalwart

Hazel Barker, centre, with, from left, county commissioner Sue Mackay and chief commissioner Hilary Cooper. (S)
Hazel Barker, centre, with, from left, county commissioner Sue Mackay and chief commissioner Hilary Cooper. (S)
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A stalwart of Girl Guiding in Ripon who has devoted more than 20 years to the movement has been given its highest accolade.

More than 50 Guide leaders gathered at Hazel House at Sharow View on Allhallowgate to see Hazel Barker presented with the prestigious Laurel Award.

Presenting the award, chief commissioner Hilary Cooper said Mrs Barker was popular with both leaders and girls and had always been prepared to “go the extra mile”.

“Every team needs a leader and you have certainly led,” added Mrs Cooper.

The award was presented at a dinner organised to celebrate Mrs Barker’s years in Guiding and – true to form – she had prepared the meal for the 50-plus guests in the building that bears her name 
after she led a fund raising drive to pay for its development.

Mrs Barker was first appointed district commissioner for Ripon in 1992 and then served five years as assistant county commissioner followed by a further term of office in Ripon until 2010.

She has taken girls to camp on countless occasions and also led trips to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in London and to Our Chalet, the Guide World Centre in Switzerland.

When the west of Market Place development – where Booths and Argos now stand – forced the demolition of the Guides headquarters on Blossomgate, Mrs Barker spearheaded a fund raising campaign to find a new home for the group.

Identifying the old laundry at Sharow View as a new base, over six years the campaign raised £400,000 to renovate the building to a suitable standard and it was officially opened in July 2009.

The renovation created a headquarters with working space for up to three groups at any one time as well as a well-equipped activity room, kitchen, secure garden and play area.

Speaking at the official opening four years ago, Mrs Barker said to the assembled Guides: “This is your house; use it, love it, take ownership of it. Guiding is a game with a purpose so enjoy it and, above all, have fun.”