DUMBSTRUCK - that was the reaction of Ballymoney woman Elizabeth Campbell when she was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
Mrs Campbell from Vow Road received the MBE for services to Girl Guides and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
A teacher in Ballymoney High School, Elizabeth said: “I am very much in the background sort of person.”
Once she got over the shock, dealing with numerous ohone calls and texts of congratulations, Elizabeth has had time to let it all sink in and says she is extremely humbled and honoured to accept the award.
“I have been a Brownie, a Guide and a Ranger in 1st Maghera right from the age of seven and have loved every moment of being part of the Guide movement whch I feel has contributed to making me the person I am today,” she said.
Having completed her Young Leader training with the late Miss Kathleen Gray, she assisted with 1st Maghera Guides until her marriage to Leslie in 1982.
On moving to Ballymoney and taking up a teaching post in Ballymoney High School in 1984, she noticed her friend and colleague, the late Mrs Hazel Ramage, always wore a Guiders uniform to school on a Monday and casually asked if there was a Guide unit in school.
It was through Hazel that Elizabeth became involved with 2nd Ballymoney Guides, meeting in Trinity Church Hall and took over leadership of the company from Mrs Lorna Dane, assisted by Hazel.
Elizabeth has held many positions in Guiding including County Outdoor Activities Adviser, District Commissioner, Senior Section Adviser, Ulster Outdoor Activities Adviser, County Secretary and County Commissioner for North Antrim.
She is currently International Adviser for the county and Secretary for the Dunluce Guide House committee.
She explained that Guiding has so much to offer that there is always something to do and it a fantastic movement for girls and women to be themselves and develop skills that will equip you for life.
She also recalled her love of the outdoors developed by the late Miss Gray, especially the camping trips.
Elizabeth explained that she became involved with Guides in Ballymoney as she felt she could repay the service given by others so that she could enjoy all the activities on offer as a child and teenager.
Elizabeth also became involved with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Ballymoney High School.
Having gained her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award while at Maghera High School and University, she respsonded to a few pupils enquiring about how they could start on their Bronze Award.
She approached the htne principal, the late Rex Patterson, who gave her the go-ahead to get the award up and running. She completed her Mountain Leadership training and has run the award with a team of willing staff for the past 26 years.
Many young people have been through the scheme and quite often recall events when they meet her, especially the expeditions in the Mournes - usually in inclement weather!
Again Elizabeth attributes her leadership skills to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and was grateful to her teachers who gave of their time freely.
“This was a way for me to give back to society what I had got out of it,” she added.
“In both Guiding and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, there was never just me. Both involve team work and I was always taught that there was no ‘i’ in team but ‘me’ to make up the word.
“So I would like to pay tribute to all who assisted me over the years.
“You volunteer because you enjoy what you do, not to get recognition for it and this is why I feel very humbled about my award as there are so many worthy people out there who do as much and more than me.
“Since taking over as Head of Deparatment and the Senior Management post of Pastoral Manager at work since September, getting the time to be involved in running the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in school is just not possible but Emma Kyle and Catherine Scott have it all in safe hands.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to many people for encouraging me right from my time as a wee Brownie. To my late parents who willingly gave up their time to get me to the various meetings and drive all over Northern Ireland depositing me at Guide camps and especially my Dad’s advice “If you are going to do a job, always do it well and stick at it.”
“To the late Miss Gray for encouraging me to complete my Leadership training and for all she taught me. To the late Mrs Hazel Ramage for getting me involved with Guides in Ballymoney and for her enthusiasm and laughter in all we did.
“To the principals of Ballymoney High for allowing me time to attend various event. Then, there are the hundreds of young people down through the years who I have had the privilege to work with and my pride in them as we visited the palace for Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award presentations.
“Finally, I must not forget my husband of 30 years for putting up with al the trips away at Guide camps and expeditions whe he was left to fend for himself, never once complaining.
“I have always tried to live by my Guide Promise that I made aged ten when I promised to do my best, to love God, serve the Queen, help other people and keep the Guide law.
“While not fully understanding the meaning back then, it has been a good yardstick to live by. When God is central, He will bless and I have many blessings to be thankful for,” she concluded.