This year Venture Abroad team member Katie celebrates a landmark achievement – 25 years in Girlguiding! From trekking the Great Wall of China and campfires in Russia, to receiving the Queen’s Guide Award and designing and distributing over 2,000 badges, Girlguiding has helped her realise many life-changing experiences.

We chat to Katie about the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women and what it means to her.

What does Girlguiding mean to you?

Girlguiding is an organisation which allows girls to challenge themselves, and it definitely has for me. It’s about friendship and helping each other out as well – whether that’s the youngest Rainbow or the Chief Guide. I’m going to the wedding of one of my oldest Guiding friends in May and I know I’m not alone in that. It’s a sense of belonging, having an instant connection wherever I go in the world – whether it’s my own village, Australia or New York, there is a Guiding connection somewhere!

 

Watch the video to find out more…

What is your role in Girlguiding?

I’m currently between roles, but I’m starting some PR work for Girlguiding Nottinghamshire. I also volunteer in the County shop and I’m a mentor for new Leaders in my area. In the past, I’ve been a Leader for Guides, Rangers and Brownies.

 

What opportunities has Girlguiding brought you?

Too many to mention! Off the top of my head: visiting India by myself, running an event in Alexandra Palace in London, in 2002 being one of the first foreign Girl Guides to visit Russia after the fall of the USSR, trekking the Great Wall of China, making hundreds of friends and of course working for Venture Abroad!

 

What has Girlguiding helped you achieve?

Probably my biggest achievement is my Queen’s Guide award. As shop manager, I managed the launch of the new Girlguiding programme in Nottinghamshire and also delivered training on it. For the Great Wall of China, I designed and distributed over 2,000 badges – and of course there was the actual trek itself, which was an amazing achievement from all of us. And I have earnt a LOT of badges (but I can always have more!).

 

You’ve achieved the Queen’s Guide Award. Tell us more!

The Queen’s Guide is the highest award in Girlguiding. You have to complete it by your 26th birthday, and I achieved it aged 25 years and 49 weeks! You have to complete 5 different parts, each focusing on a different challenge.

So, for my service in Guiding, I ran a Brownie unit and helped to organise a fun day for the Guides in my District. For the outdoor challenge, I took my Brownies on Pack Holiday and did an exploration of Guiding history in London. I then learnt to cook as part of my skill (very useful!) and helped at a talking newspaper for my community action.

The last element is residential experience, and for that I went to Sangam World Centre in India and took part in a programme with people I didn’t know at the time, but who are now good friends. Alongside a full time job, it was a great challenge and one of my proudest achievements. I would always encourage any girl to do their Queen’s Guide award, as you will get so much more from it than you thought – and it will definitely throw up some surprises!