At GFS, we have three leaders who help support and represent our volunteers – our Wales President, our England President, and our England Vice President. All three have long histories of GFS and are hugely important parts of our community. Read more about them, how they became involved in GFS and why they’ve joined in as part of our volunteer leadership.
Catriona Charlesworth Wales President
I became involved with GFS when I was told I would have to take on the role of Group Leader, when my husband became Vicar of a group of Parishes near Brecon in rural Mid Wales.
I had never heard of the organisation before, but I quickly came to learn all about it, not least from the girls who attended at the time.
Later I became Secretary for the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon and began to attend Welsh Council meetings before taking over as Secretary for GFS Wales. I became Welsh President at the end of 2014.
GFS has been an important part of my life. Being a volunteer for this wonderful organisation has enabled me to watch many girls grow in confidence and self esteem, before going on to make their way in the world.
GFS is needed as much now as it was when Mary Townsend set up GFS in 1875. My three daughters have all grown up in GFS and have been Junior Delegate at World Council, giving them experiences they may not have had.
As Welsh President I see myself as a link ensuring information flows between our girls and volunteers and the CEO, staff and Board of Trustees.
Pam Hutchison England President
Volunteers are the mainstay of many organisations. Volunteering with GFS has been a major part of my life.
The roles I have undertaken have all added another layer to my development as a person and the belief that the work of GFS with girls and young women is as vitally important now as it was in 1875 when GFS began.
It is amazing being a part of the lives of so many girls – providing them with a safe space to be themselves, watching them grow in confidence and hopefully giving them a firm foundation on which to build their lives.
My volunteering journey with GFS began in 1972/73, when I attended a group to help the girls make puppets for the Durham Diocesesan competitions.
Two friends of mine had joined GFS and in 1969 they set up a group in the parish of St Mark’s Eldon. This consists of a small group of former mining villages about three miles south east of Bishop Auckland, County Durham.
I continued volunteering as a helper, eventually becoming a Branch Leader and attending GFS Durham Diocesesan Council Meetings.This led me to being appointed as Durham Diocesesan President and a delegate to Northern Area Meetings, then becoming Northern Area Secretary.
Having attended many Membership Weekends, I acted as secretary, helping to produce the syllabus and sometimes co-ordinating competition entries. When Northern Area was split into two areas – North West England and North East England, I became the Chair of North East England Committee.
The two areas have put together again, and I was asked to take on the role of Chairperson for Northern Area.
As a volunteer, I hope that I have been been able to be a positive direct link between the girls, the CEO, the paid staff and the Board of Trustees. The greatest honour as a volunteer was being selected to take on the role of GFS English President.
Poppy Winks England Vice President
I have been in GFS all my life. My Mum joined when she was fifteen and is still an active supporter. I first attended a GFS meeting as a newborn, and I’ve never left.
Today, I work and live in a Girl’s Boarding House at a school in Bradford.
The role of Vice-President is to support the English President in her role.
I see the role of the Presidents to be the voice of the volunteers. We are volunteers, and so we understand the pressures and can empathise with them.
But we also have more knowledge of the strategic plan, so can share the thoughts of the Board and Head Office more clearly too.