A FINGAL teacher has taken on the role of Chief Commissioner of the Irish Girl Guides (IGG).
Helen Concannon, who has been a leader in her local Guide unit of River Valley, Swords, since she moved to the area 12 years ago, was officially appointed at IGG's Council Meeting, which took place in Ballsbridge.
Concannon was bit by the Guiding bug when she first became a Brownie at the age of eight in Furbo, Co Galway. A number of overseas trips she made in her teens whetted her appetite for international Guiding and she has since represented IGG at events in over 10 countries, including New Zealand, Belarus and Cyprus.
She has made five trips to the Republic of Georgia where she helped get Guiding off the ground and worked with refugees. This work earned her several accolades, including a Civic Merit Award from President McAleese in 2006. She has also led IGG service project teams in several countries and spent a year working as Assistant Programme Manager in Sangam World Centre, India, from 2003-2004.
Skerries resident Concannon, who teaches sciences in a secondary school in Tallaght, intends to continue her involvement with River Valley Guide unit in Swords while serving as Chief Commissioner.
She has already held a wide range of national positions within IGG, including Assistant Chief Commissioner and member of the Executive Committee from 2001-2003 and Assistant Camp Chief for two international Guide camps, including last year's Camp 101 in Lough Key, Co Roscommon, which attracted over 1500 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 13 countries.
During her acceptance speech, Concannon told IGG Council members that, as a young woman, she had dreamed of changing the world and that, now in her mid-thirties, she still held onto that idealism.
'We can change our world, and our world can be our local community or a wider forum,'she said. 'We can give our girls confidence to create that change, however small or big those changes are.'
She paid tribute to the 'extraordinary' Guiding leaders who had helped shape her life. 'It is from them that I gained the confidence and sense of possibility that sustained me,' she said. 'They allowed me to believe we could - and therefore must - create a world in which every girl and woman has access to the resources needed to shape their own lives and become responsible citizens.'
She said it was 'not just an honour' to be appointed Chief Commissioner but it was also 'a wonderful opportunity to work with inspiring women - women who dedicate their time to help develop the girls and young women in communities all over Ireland.'