Since its inception in 1945, the Queen’s Guide award has gone through many changes, including most recently a refresh to the programme in March 2023. One of my many reasons of returning to Guiding after my career change was to do something for my inner child. What did I love to do as a child? Badges. With the Queen’s Guide award being the highest award, you can work to in Guiding, 2021 for me seemed like it was the right time to start the challenge.
At the time, I had just turned 24 when I started so I had a fast-approaching deadline of my 26th birthday, which I am very glad to say has now passed and I am due to receive my award very soon. The good news for Inspire aged members is the refresh to the scheme means it can now be completed by members aged between 16-30, within three years of their start date or the deadline of their 31st birthday.
A lot of my peers inside and outside of Girlguiding would say that I am someone who likes to ‘run before they can walk.’ When I started volunteering with my Ranger group, I decided to start my leadership qualification, Commonwealth award and Queen’s Guide award all at the same time. This was overwhelming at the time, and I would recommend not to follow in my footsteps. However, it is possible!
In this blog, I thought it may be nice to share what I did for my Queen’s Guide award as well as what I would do now, if I could do it again. Perhaps it might inspire you to start your own journey. My confidence has grown a lot through all the various activities I have completed as part of the award, I have done a lot of things that I never would have thought were possible for myself. Whilst it has been difficult, I am proud that I pushed myself as my confidence has grown so much since I started.
For the Personal development challenge, I decided that I wanted to try ballet. I had never done dancing as a child and learning ballet is a good foundation for other disciplines. Even though I met the hours needed to sign off the section, I am happy to say that I haven’t stopped attending classes. Nothing has improved my fitness like ballet has and, in some ways, I find it quite meditative. You have to be fully focused to control your body so you can’t think about anything else, I leave my worries at the door!
If I went through the process again, I would choose to focus on dressmaking as my skill. I used to do a lot of evening classes making clothes but this stopped when I moved around different jobs. Currently, I am training to become a counsellor, I think dressmaking would be a good hobby to pick up again. As with ballet you have to be fully immersed in the activity which is helpful for taking your mind off work and other worldly worries. Furthermore, if you are not concentrating on the sewing machine, you may sew through your finger, which is something else I have done too!
For Guiding challenge, I involved myself with lots of different things at district, division, and county level as well as being part of an Anglia region trip. Events include volunteering at the Herts county fair, Great Patrol Hunt, Queen’s Jubilee Beacon celebrations, county Youth Opportunities Day, being part of a working group for the training qualification and much more.
The new programme structures this section a little differently to what I did. It is separated out into ‘Girl, Growth and retention, Volunteer, Inclusion.’ For each part, you need to commit to something at differing levels of activity in Girlguiding.
As an example, for the ‘Girl’ section, I would choose to volunteer with Rangers, this is at unit level. For ‘Growth and retention’, I could run county Inspire events that introduce ideas of flexible volunteering opportunities. The next part is the ‘Volunteer’ section, I’d like to work towards the trainer qualification with the view that I could conduct training sessions for the Anglia region. The final section is ‘Inclusions’, an idea I have would be to work at division level and create a support group for leaders who help girls or other adult members with additional needs.
During my Queen’s Guide award, the area that I found most difficult was the Community Action section. The practical element came about easier than the research element for me. I was a business mentor for sixth formers through Young Enterprise. I enjoyed this experience as I did the Young Enterprise programme when I was studying my A Levels so it was nice to return and support like-minded people. With some reflection, I believe I became fatigued of my choice in research topic (How the pandemic affected children and young people’s mental health and employability) and that the focus was too close to home as I lost three jobs as a result of COVID-19.
If I could do the award again, I think a topic that I would be interested to research would be about how/why traditional crafts/craftsmanship are dying out in the UK. For the practical step, I would volunteer with a charity called WorkAid which renovate and give life back to old tools, that are either sent to Africa to upskill groups of people in crafts/trades or sold in the charity shop. Finally, as the Inspire step of the challenge, I would try to organise a tour of the site for my Ranger groups as well as creative activities in Workaid’s Hub space.
Following Community action, is the Lead the way challenge section. As part of my work towards the award, I completed my going away with licence where I took my Ranger unit on a wellbeing retreat at a venue called Windy Sayles in Bedfordshire. Whipsnade Zoo is a short walk away from Windy Sayles so we visited there as part of the trip, as well as playing yoga dominoes, making relaxing bath salts and essential oil rollers, doing mindful colouring as well as starting wellbeing journals that could be continued at home.
Once I had completed my going away with licence, I planned an expedition around the Isle of Wight and my aim was to find all the Eight Wonders of the Isle of Wight. These are as follows: Cowes you cannot milk, Freshwater you cannot drink, Newport you cannot bottle, Needles you cannot thread, Winkle Street where there are no winkles, Ryde where you walk, Lake where there is no water and Newchurch or Newtown which is very old. Also on the trip, we visited the Garlic Farm and the famous Osbourn House where Queen Victoria would visit on her holidays.
For my imaginary Lead the way challenge, I would like to be a part of leading or assisting an adventurous outdoor activity. In particular, I would like to work on gaining my level 2 walking scheme qualification so I could assist with one of many exciting walking team trips. At the time of writing, I am about to embark on a Girlguiding Herts weekend trip to Norfolk for the Marathon Walking Challenge along the coast. There are lots more Herts walking team events in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled on the Billboard and county Events webpage. Also, you can sign up to the walking team newsletter by emailing [email protected]
Finally, for the Social experience challenge. In November 2022, I attended a sewing retreat in Devon and at that time I had never visited Devon before or signed up to an event like that. It was a lovely creative gathering where, as well as dressmaking and tailoring, we visited amazing restaurants serving very tasty local produce and visited a well-known sewing store (which I have visited since this year). More recently this summer, I was the caterer for a Brownie holiday at Gaddesden Row in Herts. It had an Alice in Wonderland theme and was really lovely as I remember going to a unit holiday trip there when I was a Brownie. A very full circle moment. If I was doing it all again, now I would like to plan and be part of an Inspire county or region level event.
I hope that reading about my experience inspires you to start your own Queen’s Guide award journey, to find out more information or to begin working towards it, please email: [email protected]
The road to launch #InspireHertfordshire
Hello all, my name is Amy and I am the Herts Inspire lead volunteer.
What is Inspire? Firstly, there isn’t an easy quick answer to that question, but I like to think of it as: whatever we want it to be. If you checkout the girlguiding.org.uk page, some of the key words to describe Inspire are ‘fun, flexible and tailored to you.’ Using this as a starting point, it is my mission to build a community with you, 18–30-year-olds of Hertfordshire, where we can try new things and do what we love in guiding. However, our main responsibility as members of Inspire, is making sure we have the best time together and are doing something that we can all reflect back on with a smile.
In Girlguiding I am a Ranger leader in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire counties. Whether or not you are part of a unit, I’m sure we can agree that everything needed to make a unit work doesn’t materialise overnight. It takes time to build a successful group, with trust, teamwork, a bit of trial and error and enthusiasm. I like to think of Inspire being similar. The roadmap graphic gives you an idea of what is happening behind the scenes to make Inspire what we want it to be.
The first part in our roadmap is where I am hoping to get some direction from you. I am only one person and I definitely do not claim to have all the answers about what you may want to do. Over the next few weeks and months, I am hoping to gather lots of ideas about what I can organise that would excite you and make you want to be a part of Inspire Hertfordshire. You can help me by completing the online questionnaire.
Please keep your eyes peeled for other surveys and questionnaire which will be your chance to collaborate with me and work out a fun plan of virtual and in person activities.
Sometimes, I can get very excited about things and then want to do everything at once. When I came back to Girlguiding in 2021 I decided that I would do my Commonwealth award, leadership qualification and Queen’s Guide award all at the same time. This was a challenge, to say the least, but a lesson I learnt is that scheduling is very important. Doing everything all at once is not necessarily the best route to enjoy what you are doing.
After data collection, the next step is working out when we can meet and start having fun. I realise that we’re all at different stages in our lives and have assorted interests fighting for a slot in our busy calendars. Therefore, to make Inspire something for everyone I think there needs to be flexibility. There is no expectation that you will have to attend every meeting, it would be impossible to pick dates we can all be available for. One of my ideas is to have a virtual meeting one month, and then an in-person meeting the next. Part of the 1st questionnaire is establishing best days, times and format for meetings so I can create a list of ‘save the dates’ for Inspire gatherings.
Whilst Hertfordshire is a small county, we have a very dense population. In terms of numbers, we are actually the 2nd largest Girlguiding county. For our in-person meetups, as well as visits outside the county for example to London or Cambridge, I would like to aim to meet in each of our 9 geographical divisions. I’m based in West division so have some local ideas, but please let me know about places near you. A meeting location doesn’t have to be a Guide Hut, it could be adventurous, or it could be calm and cosy.
What is Inspire? What could Inspire be? These are questions that float about in my mind a lot and I could imagine the former may have passed through yours too. Inspire did not have the easiest of beginnings, originally it was due to launch during early 2020, but we all know what happened then. The marketing section of the roadmap exists to ensure everyone hears about the planned exciting schedule of activities. Part of the Inspire Hertfordshire journey is creating a memorable brand that is exciting. Towards the end of the 1st questionnaire, you should see some sections asking about what sort of Inspire merchandise you would like. I’m sure you’ll agree it wouldn’t be a Girlguiding group if there weren’t any badges. It is part of my plan to have consistency across any virtual, printed or media content. Please share any ideas that you have, collaboration is key to build something that you want.
At the end of the road, or the light at the end of the tunnel, is launching Inspire Hertfordshire. As it stands this is planned for early 2024. Something to look forward to. I hope this summary of what is happening behind the scenes has made you curious and excited about what Inspire Hertfordshire could be. If you have any ideas or would like to have a chat about Inspire, feel free to send me a message on [email protected]