Northumberland women honoured

Two women from Ponteland have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st January 2022, 10:29 am

Lucinda Porter, 67, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) and 25-year-old Bridget Stratford has been made an MBE.

The two women learned of the honours in a letter in November, but were sworn to secrecy until 10.30pm on New Year’s Eve.

Lucinda, who was given a BEM for giving more than 50 years of active voluntary service to Girl Guiding, managed to keep her good news to herself, despite the temptation to tell all.

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Bridget Stratford, 25, has been made a MBE.

She said: "The letter was a complete shock, but I was really chuffed. It's nice to be honoured, but I don't do it for the recognition, I just enjoy being with young people.

"Girl Guiding has changed a lot over the years, but it is still good fun and the girls still learn all about teamwork, how to think independently and be more considerate of others.”

Since 1966, Lucinda has been a Guide, Ranger, Young Leader, Assistant Guider and more recently, Senior Leader of 4th Ponteland Guides.

Thirty years ago, she became District Commissioner for Ponteland, Northumberland and currently holds the position of Division Badge Secretary.

Despite being wheelchair-bound and living with a disability, Lucinda also works part-time for HMRC and spends much of her free time raising cash for the Guides. She has collected about £20,000 over the years.

Bridget, project co-ordinator for North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T) at Newcastle University, has been made a MBE for services to refugees and asylum Seekers, particularly during the pandemic.

She is the driving force behind NEST, a student-run volunteer group which empowers the refugee and asylum-seeking community in the region through a variety of formats such as one-to-one English teaching, group English classes, sports, creative arts and local trips.

Bridget successfully moved the group’s services online following the outbreak of Covid-19, and it currently supports around 400 people.

Asked about how she felt being made an MBE, she said: “I was just really surprised, but also happy.

"It’s great to get recognition but everyone I work with needs to share the credit. The people we support have been instrumental in delivering this project as well.”

Anyone interested in helping asylum seekers and refugees should visit the Newcastle City of Sanctuary website, https://newcastle.cityofsanctuary.org/