Alison’s guiding spirit is honoured

Alison Purkins receives her British Empire Medal. Picture: comp
Alison Purkins receives her British Empire Medal. Picture: comp
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A retired high school teacher has been given the royal seal of approval for her commitment to Girlguiding.

Alison Purkins was awarded the British Empire Medal for her long service to the movement.

She was presented with the honour by the Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian, Sir Robert Clerk, at a special ceremony in Roslin on Saturday.

Mrs Purkins grew up in Blackford and was a member of the 27A Edinburgh Guide company – based at Reid Memorial Church – before being appointed an assistant in 1967.

She held this post for five years before taking over as company leader where she volunteered for another four decades.

Meanwhile, she was a teacher of physics at Lasswade High School for 17 years.

After collecting her British Empire Medal on Saturday, Mrs Purkins said: “It has been a very proud and special day, which I have enjoyed sharing with my family and friends.”

She said she loved guiding because it offered younger generations the chance to experience the same outdoor pursuits she enjoyed as a child, such as camping.

Sir Robert was delighted to bestow the honour on the retired teacher at the ceremony.

The Lord Lieutenant said: “I am delighted that Alison Purkins’ very long-standing commitment to Girlguiding has been recognised through this award.

“Her voluntary service for the benefit of young people will be an inspiration to others who so generously give their time and their talents to support organisations such as the Guides which are so valuable today.”

Mrs Purkins now lives in Roslin with her husband.

Also at the ceremony at the weekend in the town’s Original Hotel were her daughter Morag and her two granddaughters, Gemma and Abby.

They are all involved in the Girlguiding movement.

Mrs Purkins said those who took part in Girlguiding were adding valuable qualities to their lives.

She said: “Time at camp, in particular, encourages both teamwork and independence, besides being a great opportunity to get to know your friends well or to get to know new people.”

Speaking to the Evening News when she was named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, Mrs Purkins said she had been shocked to learn she had been nominated for a gong.

“I’m a bit disbelieving, to be honest,” she said.

“I was totally surprised when I read the letter. It didn’t seem real.

“I haven’t told anyone yet, except by husband. It’s a tremendous compliment that anyone thought to nominate me.”