Young Edinburgh woman ready to take the lead after earning Girlguiding’s ultimate honour

A Girlguiding Scotland member from Edinburgh is poised to make her mark on the next generation of leaders after earning the charity’s highest accolade – the Queen’s Guide Award.

Jessica Walker, 22, has dedicated three years working toward guiding’s top award – a feat achieved by only a handful of Girlguiding’s half a million members annually.

The Queen’s Guide Award empowers young women aged 16 to 25 to broaden their horizons, raise their aspirations and develop vital leadership skills to help them improve their own lives and the lives of others.

The girl-only challenge sets participants a series of demanding tasks, including embarking on an ambitious four-day outdoor adventure, overseeing a pair of ground-breaking community action projects and devoting a year to cultivating a new skill.

Among the tasks Jessica chose to tackle were an amazing trip to Guyana with GOLD (Guiding Overseas Linked with Development), volunteering as a tour guide in the Victoria Tunnel in Newcastle and being a member of Girlguiding’s Advocate panel – a group of young women who help direct Girlguiding’s campaigning, advocacy and research programme.

She received her award from Chief Guide Gill Slocombe – a former recipient herself – at a special ceremony in London on 18 November.

Jessica, who is Leader with the 72nd Edinburgh Guides and currently studying for her PHD in Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I think doing my Queen’s Guide has given me opportunities I might never have had otherwise – I had an incredible time in Guyana! The experience really helped me become a better Leader for my own Units, especially in terms of programme planning and running sessions. GOLD teaches you to think on your feet and definitely to be prepared for anything!

“I have also gained a myriad of skills – from improving my leadership abilities to cheerleading, which I know has boosted my CV but also been useful for performing better in my degree and at work. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities that Queen’s Guide has given me.

Gill said: “Girlguiding’s research shows most girls aged 16 to 21 – 58 per cent – aspire to take on leadership roles in their future careers, but they need to see more inspiring women at the top to give them the confidence to do so.

“The Queen’s Guide is all about showing young women that this is possible, that they have the potential to take on any challenge the world throws at them and become tomorrow’s leaders in all walks of life – so they can go on to inspire the next generation to aim high.”