4th Hucclecote Brownies had some VIPs visiting their end of term campfire on 12th July. But they weren't the star of the evening. Regional Commissioner, Carole and County Commissioner, Karen presented Chloe Henderson, a very special Brownie, with her GUIDING STAR AWARD! Not many girls receive this national award, which rewards bravery and determination in challenging situations.
Chloe has Cerebral Palsy which meant she could not stand unsupported and used a frame to help her walk. This did not stop her joining Hucclecote Rainbows when she was 5 and making a huge contribution to the unit. Chloe was always willing to have a go at anything new however difficult it was. Her friendliness welcomed new comers and helped them settle in easily. Her openness about her walker, broke down barriers that often exist when confronted with disabilities.
In 2015 Chloe moved up to Brownies and has continued being an active member of the unit. She has attended Sleep overs, Division Activity days, Remembrance parades and Thinking Day celebrations. Chloe's Leader, Tracy wrote 'Chloe is always willing to share her own experiences to educate others. This was invaluable when we worked through the ‘Free Being Me’ resources. Chloe was able show that we are all special and should respect each other.'
In the Summer of 2016, Chloe underwent several operations that could help her to walk and stand unaided. But writing that statement does not covey the years of struggle and disappointment Chloe and her family went through just to get to there. Chloe had previously gone through a successful, three year process to see if Selective Dorsel Rhizotomy (SDR) would be a benefit; only to be told that NHS funding had been stopped! Even through this disappointment Chloe remained positive and never complained. Her family's support and determination led to a massive fundraising project to allow the operation to go ahead privately. It shows the impact Chloe has on her fellow Brownies and Rainbows, that when we suggested a cake and craft sale in aid of the appeal, they all agreed and wanted to help. The sale was well attended and raised over £400.
The operation was only the start. Chloe has spent the time since then, and will continue to do so going forward, on long physiotherapy and swimming sessions. Chloe has had to learn how to walk and stand and do things for herself that all 8 year olds take for granted.
Chloe is also a budding singer and dancer; becoming the first disabled child in the country to take and pass her pre-primary ballet award, using her walking frame. Chloe has always loved watching the Gang Show performances, with our unit trips and last October took part herself in the County Guiding Show. County Commissioner, Karen wrote in her support for Chloe's Guiding Star application, 'Chloe was one of the stars of our Girlguiding County Show in October. Chloe's contribution and her smile engaged everyone in the audience. I was so proud of her achievement and also proud to be part of an organisation that was giving her opportunities to grow and have fun!'
Chloe was nominated for the Guiding Star Award not just because of all she has gone through in her shorty life, but for the way she lives up to her Guiding Promise every day. Liza, Chloe's Divisional Commissioner wrote, 'Despite all the reasons she has not to try, Chloe still does. She tries every single day. She smiles every single day. She cheers us up every single day. She sees through every day with bravery and determination, never once even considering an excuse.'
Recently Chloe has taken her first steps unaided and only needs two sticks to help her now. Seeing her stride across the main field towards the campfire, unaware that the evening was to honour her, made me smile. When anyone meets Chloe, it is not her disability that they see first, it's her enormous smile and you can not help but smile back. That is why I started the nomination process and am so proud of Chloe for receiving her Guiding Star Award.
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