Retired Health Visitor and Founder of Bright Beginnings Children's Centre, Rachel Copeland, is being awarded a BEM for her work to support vulnerable families in Guernsey.
Mrs Copeland dedicated 25 years of her life to improving opportunities for local people during her career, and has continued that through her work in the voluntary sector.
"Towards the end of my career I led the Guernsey Young Parents' Partnership which was an intensive visiting programme for young parents," she explained. "That was an amazing time in my career because I met so may young people who really overcame quite a lot of adversity to be able to parent their children really well.
"It was a small group but I visited them very frequently through their pregnancy and right until their child was two. So we got to know each other very well and it was a real privilege to be able to lead that programme and to learn a lot from the young people."
Pictured: Mrs Copeland supported young people throughout their pregnancies and until their child was two.
That experience then inspired Mrs Copeland to look into the '1001 critical days' movement, which highlights the importance of a child's first days, from conception to when they turn two-years-old. She became involved in Every Child Our Future - a charity which aims to improve the lives of local children - and set up Bright Beginnings in 2016.
The centre offers support for parents, carers and young children, with a focus on building the relationship between children and their caregivers.
"I was involved from the beginning because we really feel that all parents need a place where they can be themselves and where they can have time with their children and receive support as it's needed," she explained. "It was really important to us that the centre was free of charge to everybody so all people can access it.
"Bright Beginnings is so close to my heart. I love what we're trying to do there and the fact that it's so busy and so many people come to us. It's a wonderful thing. I'm privileged to have played a part in it and particularly to have been able to see families access support for any difficulties they might have or just enjoy being with their children, with a focus on the crucial relationship between baby and caregiver."
Pictured: Mrs Copeland founded the Bright Beginnings Children Centre.
In addition, Mrs Copeland is also involved with Maison St Pierre, the Guernsey Housing Association, Choices and Help a Guernsey Child.
"I just love what I've been given the opportunity to do and I just love this work," she added. "Although I'm busy, I'm enjoying everything I do and I feel very grateful that I've been able to do it."
Mrs Copeland was contacted by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor in May, who told her she would be given the award as part of Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Honours List.
"I think it's fair to say that I'm not often short of a few words, but I really was quite speechless and tearful," she said. "I was so surprised and overwhelmed and it's been a very long period of time to keep this a secret."
Pictured top: Rachel Copeland.
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