New Year Honour for Lay Reader Gwyn McKenzie

First published on: 4th January 2024

A Lay Reader in Newcastle Diocese has become a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to young people and the community.

Gwyn McKenzie was recognised in the King’s New Year Honours List in recognition of her voluntary work over the past 50 years.

During that time, she has served the Scout Association in a number of influential roles both regionally and nationally.

“I was stunned,” said Gwyn, who is a PCC member at St James’ Church in Riding Mill. “When I received the letter, I couldn’t believe it.

“I thought it was a mistake, but the Cabinet Office told me it wasn’t and it’s really nice to be recognised for something you have enjoyed doing for so many years.

“Scouting is wonderful. I have had the opportunity to work with amazing young people and adults and it is a very inspirational environment.”

A Girl Guide herself as a youngster, Gwyn became a Scout leader at the age of 18 and went on to spend 11 years at commissioner level. In 1987 she was appointed as assistant county commissioner in Northumberland.

The following year she was invited to take up the position of UK Commissioner for Cub Scouts, taking on the responsibility of developing the training section for 250,000 eight to 11 year-olds across the UK and dependent territories.

The role enabled Gwyn to travel across the UK and abroad encouraging leaders, as well as delivering training and monitoring the success of the Cub Scout Programme.

A significant highlight came in the late 1980s when Gwyn was part of a working group which recommended that Scouting should be co-educational and that became the norm from 1991 in the UK.

Gwyn served as a member of the national Trustee Board of the Scout Association. She was also engaged at assistant county commissioner level with responsibility for Beaver Scout and Cub Scout sections and for community development.

In addition, Gwyn was active as acting district commissioner for five Scout districts in Northumberland, managing and maintaining those districts until outgoing district commissioners could be replaced.

As deputy county commissioner, she introduced and managed the county's major development programmes, namely the Lindisfarne Project and LookwideUK, projects which she then developed and enhanced as county commissioner.

Away from Scouting, Gwyn is a committed communicant of the Church of England. A licenced Lay Reader, she is an active member at St James' Church, Riding Mill.

For the past six years, Gwyn has been a volunteer trustee of Walking With, the North Tyneside based charitable organisation which supports asylum seekers and refugees.

She is also a trustee of Transforming Communities Together: Tyne to Tweed (formerly Together Newcastle), which offers church-based community development at grassroots level, working in the most deprived communities across the diocese.

Gwyn joins her husband David as an MBE, who has previously received the award for services to young people.

She added: "When he got his, I was just thrilled to be able to support David, and now he's thrilled to support me."

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