Gill’s service to town rewarded with medal

PUBLISHED: 15:47 08 January 2016

Gill Laws was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours list. exe 01-16AW BEM medal 6972.JPG. Picture: Alex Walton

Gill Laws was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours list. exe 01-16AW BEM medal 6972.JPG. Picture: Alex Walton


An Exmouth community champion, who has helped people from all generations and walks of life, says she is ‘overwhelmed’ to have received recognition in the New Year Honours list.

Gill Laws, 75, is to receive a British Empire Medal for services to the community.

Gill, who lives in Broadmead, Brixington, said the honour was so unexpected that when the letter to notify her arrived from the Government, she initially thought it might be an income tax demand.

She said: “I read it several times, because you think ‘Is somebody pulling a joke or is this really so?’.

“It’s a great honour. I feel a bit overwhelmed really, getting something like this, something so unexpected.

“All the things I’ve done, I did because I wanted to do them, and it gave me pleasure. You think ‘Gosh, I’ve been rewarded for something I enjoy doing’.”

Gill’s wide-ranging interests in Exmouth began after moving to the town from Worcestershire in 1969.

Initially joining Brixington Primary School as a teacher, she went on to spend 41 years there, later serving as vice-chairman of governors.

She has spent 25 years as a room guide at National Trust property A la Ronde, where she still volunteers, having been there since it opened, and also serves on its social club committee. She is secretary for the Exmouth and District Talking Newspaper, a position she has held for 19 years, and formerly served as chairman of the Phoenix Friendship Group, and chairman of the National Trust Raleigh Centre.

Gill, who has two step-children, Penny and David, four step-grandchildren and three step-great-grandchildren, says she stepped up her community involvement after losing her husband, Jimmy, who died when she was 57.

She said: “I thought ‘I don’t want to just sit back and do nothing’. I was already at A la Ronde and a school governor, but that’s when got involved with Phoenix and the Raleigh Centre and talking newspapers.

“It’s all been done because I thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoy sorting things out and organising things, and the pleasure you get when you know from the recipients, particularly of the talking newspaper, that it means so much to them.”

Gill will receive the honour in a ceremony from the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, and will be invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party later this year.

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