A GIRL GUIDE leader has stepped down from running a unit after 45 years of volunteering.

Guin James, 66, from Pontllanfraith has volunteered with the Guides for almost all her adult life, having started out by helping with a group at Albany Road Baptist Church in Cardiff.

When she moved to Pontllanfraith with her family in 1972, Mrs James took over the 2nd Pontllanfraith unit and has run it ever since.

The former Ynysddu Primary school teacher, who has a passion for music, has helped out with a range of events including heading on camps, training and conducting the Welsh Guides Choir, and working as a trainer of new Guide leaders.

So valued was her work that Mrs James was sent out to the Caribbean in 1989 as part of a national delegation of Guides to train and promote Guiding in Anguilla, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.

"That trip was quite something because we haven’t travelled abroad a lot as a family even," says Mrs James.

Mrs James is clear about why Guiding is special, and the key to her wanting to volunteer so much of her time.

"There is so much friendship, loyalty and comradeship in Guiding. I have unfortunately suffered from illness at points in my life and the visits and cards that you get from people you meet through Guiding is amazing.

"One of the principles of the guides is to be a friend to all Guides, it’s very special.

"It also teaches girls skills, perhaps skills they don’t get anywhere else anymore.

"I just hope some of my enthusiasm has been able to rub off," she said.

Angela Williams, division commissioner for West Monmouthshire Guides, said: On behalf of everyone I would just like to say a huge thank you for all the years she has committed to Guiding.

"Guin will be sorely missed by all. She is a great person and will help anybody who asks. I personally will miss her and I and all of West Mon Division Guiders wish her well."