Honoured citizen of Honiton - Helen Turner

Helen Turner. Ref ehr 41-16TI 9301. Picture: Terry Ife

Helen Turner. Ref ehr 41-16TI 9301. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Helen Turner’s contribution to Honiton has been officially recognised and she sat down with the Resident to discuss her activities

1st Honiton Scouts held their summer fair at the weekend. Michael Lucas and his brother Christopher

1st Honiton Scouts held their summer fair at the weekend. Michael Lucas and his brother Christopher team up with Sam Buckley on the wet sponge stocks and give scouts leader Helen Turner a good soaking. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref mhh 9749-31-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.midweekherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

She’s the friendly face of Honiton’s busy Beavers and Scouting groups.

But one thing you might not know about Helen Turner is she an ‘honoured citizen’ of Honiton, a title bestowed by its town council to the community’s worthiest stalwarts.

Helen sat down with the Resident to discuss her life story, and how she came to the town where she continues to make a difference to its youngsters.

Helen Turner lived in Moretonhampstead until she was five-years-old, before moving to Musbury with her family.

Helen Turner with Honiton cub Fraser Moran showing one of the Bat boxes they have put up in the Glen

Helen Turner with Honiton cub Fraser Moran showing one of the Bat boxes they have put up in the Glen as part of their community Scout week. Photo by Terry Ife ref mhh 4469-20-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.midweekherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant


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As a youngster, she was taught at Musbury Primary School and Axminster Secondary School.

In 1979, Helen married her husband Ray, who she would go on to have three children with – Glynn, Ryan and Zoe.

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In September 1991, Helen joined 1st Honiton Scout Group to be a Beaver leader.

She recalls: “The Cubs were in Lace Walk and I asked the leader Di Wall how old youngsters had to be to join Cubs, as my seven-year-old son Glynn wanted to join.

Honiton Beavers' Hot Pennies ceremony. Photo: Callum Lawton

Honiton Beavers' Hot Pennies ceremony. Photo: Callum Lawton - Credit: Archant

“She told me that to join, youngsters had to be eight-years-old, but the organisation were setting up a new section called Beavers, which was for six- to eight-year-olds.

“Di’s husband Phil contacted me as he was the Group Scout Leader at the time and before I knew it, I had agreed to be the Beaver leader!”

To this day, Helen continues to run the Beavers in Honiton. After 27 years in the role, she still enjoys the sessions, which are held on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

In February 2000, Helen also joined the Honiton Detachment Army Cadet Force as an adult instructor.

Helen Turner (centre) received her Silver Damboree badge, witnessed by Lisa Parkyn, Christine Strain

Helen Turner (centre) received her Silver Damboree badge, witnessed by Lisa Parkyn, Christine Strain (Beaver assistant leader at Ottery), Honiton mayor Cllr Henry Brown and town crier Dave Retter. - Credit: Archant

Through lots of hard work and determination, Helen earned the rank of Sergeant Major and was the Detachment commander for nearly seven years. She would give up that role in October 2013.

Helen says: “I did lots of things that I could never of dreamed of.

“The reason I joined in the first place was because of my son.

“My eldest wanted to do Army Cadets and when we went for a look around I was told that they were desperate for female cover.

“I thought about it and rather than just being there twice a week every week as a civilian assistant, I went into uniform, did all the training and so it went on.”

Fast-forward to September 2006 and Helen would take up a new role in Honiton – this time as a key member of the town’s carnival committee.

The opportunity arose after her daughter Zoe became the town’s first carnival queen after several years of there not being one.

Helen continues to work on the carnival committee to this day – and now a grown-up Zoe has joined the team.

Helen says: “I am so proud of my children as they all went through Scouting and Army Cadets and gained a lot of experience of different things.

“Ryan was also chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in May 2012 in Minehead for his work he had done in Scouting and Army Cadets.

“Both Ryan and Zoe were selected for World Scout Jamborees in 2007 and 2011. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they will never forget.

“Zoe has been a Beaver and Cub leader for the past five years now and really enjoys it.

“At the end of the day, I could not do all that I do for 1st Honiton Scout Group without my husband and daughter’s support.”

Henry Brown, Honiton’s mayor, said: “Helen has been involved with the Honiton Scout Troop for around 27 years and without her tireless efforts, it simply wouldn’t be where it is today.

“I bore witness to the dedication Helen puts in during my time with the Scouts in my teen years.

“I also recognise the great work Helen does with the local cadet squadron, as well as the carnival committee.

“It is people such as Helen which keep the meaning of community alive and maintain services for future generations.

“I bow in gratitude to her service to this town.”

For more features from East Devon Resident, click here.

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