Posted by Sandra on April 23, 2014
Meriel tells of her experience of working towards the Queen's Guide Award - the highest award in Guiding - in her own words:
"When I signed up for Queen’s Guide, I didn’t exactly realise what I was getting myself into. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But I’m so glad I did! It has definitely been an experience, with both ups and downs, and I have taken away so much from it. I think that most of all, it has taught me to use my initiative and has shown me that sometimes you have to be creative to get things done. It’s also a great way of meeting others involved in Guiding from different parts of the country and can be lots of fun, so if you’re thinking about doing Queen’s Guide and you’re committed to following it through, I’d say go for it!
One of the best things about doing Queen’s Guide was the wide variety of opportunities it opened up. From being part of the catering team at the Royal Cornwall Show to transcribing 16th century wills to trying glass-blowing for the first time, I’ve got loads of great memories to look back on. This is not to say there weren’t challenges though– it definitely wasn’t a walk in the park! I particularly found the Senior Section Camp Permit difficult to organise, as some of it was quite confusing and then when it came to doing the exploration, it was hard finding enough people to do it with. However, when you know where to look, there is usually advice available somewhere! The Queen’s Guide Facebook page is really good for this, as it’s an ideal way to share experiences and tips and thus learn from others also doing the award. This was actually how I eventually found people to do my exploration with, which ended up being the best bit of the award, as we had great fun and I met some new friends too! We did the exploration in Bristol just before Christmas and did loads of things including visiting the SS Great Britain ship, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Christmas markets.
Through Queen’s Guide, I also became involved in a fair number of volunteering projects, something which I found particularly rewarding, as it was great getting to give something back to Guiding and the other organisations I had been working with. For one aspect of my service in guiding, I even got to stay in the Guide Headquarters in central London – quite exciting for a Cornish girl from a small village! I also did things like helping at a camp for disadvantaged children and volunteering at the local heritage centre in Callington.
So much of what I’ve done over the course of the award, I may not even have thought of doing if I hadn’t done Queen’s Guide – in this sense, it’s been a great motivator to try new things. However, I do also want to stress that it’s not quite as difficult as it may seem, so don’t be put off! If you’re considering doing Queen’s Guide, you’re most likely already doing some things that could count – you’ve just got to show that you’re constantly improving on whatever it is. So for example I was already doing drama, which I then used as my skill. In some ways, doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is also quite similar to Queen’s Guide – this is also definitely a help if it’s something you’re doing or have done!
Overall, Queen’s Guide has probably been the biggest challenge I’ve ever undertaken in my life. However, it was great fun and having finished it, I’ve got a huge sense of achievement. It’s also got lots of bonuses you might not even have thought of, like having something completely different to talk about in interviews!"
Meriel Lees, Queen's Guide