LURGAN woman Andree Best was awarded an MBE for her devotion to Girl Guiding which started at the age of eight when she joined First Lurgan Brownies.
Andree (55) from Rosewood Park celebrated with her sister when she found out she’d been included in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for voluntary services to Young People in Ulster though Girl Guiding.
She told the ‘MAIL’: “I got a letter towards the end of November telling me I had been recommended for the award. I didn’t know for definite until the honours were announced.
“I only have my two sisters so I’d told them both that I’d got the letter. I was with my sister Jacqueline when I found out. We opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”
Andree spent Christmas with her sister Jacqueline in Derby when she learnt she was to receive an MBE.
She returned to Northern Ireland for New Year’s and toasted her award with her sister Linda who lives in Bangor on New Year’s Eve.
She commented: “Organisations like the Girl Guides wouldn’t happen without volunteers.
“I was a Brownie at the age of eight with First Lurgan Brownies. I’m still with them as a leader.
“I’ve had my leadership certificate for 30 years.”
In 2006 Andree was appointed Chief Commissioner for the Girl Guides. She was in this role for five years until 2011.
She said: “I loved doing it. I really enjoyed it. It’s a huge organisation with 12,000 members in Northern Ireland alone.
“I was responsible for all those members plus I took care of the running of the Girl Guide Conference Centre at Lorne House in Craigavad.”
Andree’s late mother Edna had been a Brownie leader and along with her mother, Andree also cites Girl Guide leader at Queen Street Methodist Church, Mrs McNutt, as a big influence on her decision to devote much of her spare time to being a leader.
She said: “I was inspired by Mrs McNutt and I fell in love with Girl Guiding when I was a child. My love of guiding is why I want to continue to give back to others.”
Andree concluded: “My mother passed away in September so it was a bittersweet feeling to get the MBE. I’m honoured to have it but I would have loved her to have been around to see it.
“I’m really, really chuffed to be awarded an MBE. I’m very thankful for the support that must have been there to recommend me. It’s an achievement not just for me, but for Girl Guiding.
“It’s an organisation that I very much believe in. It does so much great work for young girls and women.”