Sarah Farquhar: Girlguiding opportunities and challenges

SARAH Farquhar describes working for her Queen’s Guide Award

Girls from 1st Duns Guides working on The Baden-Powell Challenge Award, the highest award a Guide can achieve. Picture: Contributed

I’m the kind of person who loves to see just how far I can push myself – so it came as no surprise to my friends and family when I announced I had decided to aim for my Queen’s Guide Award.

Sounds fancy, doesn’t it – but what exactly is the Queen’s Guide Award? Well, it’s the highest award members of Girlguiding Scotland or Girlguiding anywhere else in the UK can aim for. It gives you the chance to develop your skills by taking on a range of personal challenges and contributing to your local community. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy – especially juggling it with the demands of my occupational therapy degree!

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

But it was definitely worth doing. Not only did I get to go down to London to receive my award at the UK Parliament – and meet inspiring action-adventurer Sally Kettle – but it’s opened up so many doors and led me to lots of exciting opportunities. I’ve since gone on to be an assistant leader on an international trip to Luxembourg and travelled to Cambodia with guiding.

There are several parts to the award, where you decide what challenges to aim for in fields including volunteering, social action, developing new skills and travelling to a new place.

As an Assistant Brownie Leader I was in a great position to access the support I needed, including gaining my Girlguiding Leadership Qualification – which allows me to lead a unit of my own – and getting my camping licence under my belt. This has been a great opportunity to continue to offer fun new experiences to our girls, who all love camping, and for me to take on a new volunteer role helping others to gain their camping licences.

As part of this I researched and wrote a new disability resource pack to help Leaders work on the Brownie Disability awareness badge with their girls.

On the practical side I raised money for the charity Caudwell Children – which provides support services, equipment and treatment for disabled children and their families – by spending the day in Edinburgh in a onesie and getting as many photographs as possible with tourists.

For the ‘learn a new skill’ section of my award I chose to learn how to play the bass guitar and joined a local band in my home town of Newton Mearns. We had a great time getting toes tapping at gigs, including competing at the Glasgow music festival and playing concerts for charity.

I also attended a Girlguiding youth forum in Cardiff as part of the ‘service to guiding’ section of the challenge. This really opened my eyes to how huge an organisation Girlguiding yet how each of us can make an impact on it. At this event all our views were listened to as we discussed topics such as peer education and our ideal activity weekend, and it’s great to see that they’ve since been put into practice.

Completing the Queen’s Guide Award has been a brilliant adventure. It’s helped me to truly understand the value of good communication, improve my organisational skills and reach out of my comfort zone to connect with new people. If you’re in guiding or thinking of signing up and you get the chance to aim for your Queen’s Guide Award – go for it!

• Sarah Farquhar is an occupational therapist and an Assistant Leader with 1st Mearns Brownies and 1st Mearns Senior Section. She is one of less than 200 Girlguiding members from across the UK who complete the tough Queen’s Guide Award each year