Queen's Guide award for Charlotte

At the Manchester County awards day on 21 November 2022 Charlotte Mellor of Ashton Division was presented with her Queen’s Guide Award. Presenting the award, County Commissioner Rona Rommel said that she was honoured to be able to make the presentation and commended Charlotte for not only completing the highest award in Guiding but completing it during the pandemic making many changes to her plans along the way.

In receiving her award Charlotte gave the audience an overview of her award, how it started and was planned and how she had to adapt it along the way.

You can read Charlotte’s inspirational speech below:

Charlotte (r) being presented her Queen’s Guide awards by Rona Rommel (l)

“For me, completing my Queen’s Guide Award seemed like the obvious challenge since I’ve been in Guiding since Rainbows and it’s shaped so much of who I am. Looking at all of the different tasks I’d have to take on in order to complete the different elements seemed more than a little daunting, but I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a go. I met Mel in the summer of 2019 to formally sign up to do the award. Together, we made plans and discussed ideas as to how I’d meet the various challenges and push myself to venture outside of my comfort zone along the way. After a very productive meeting, I set about doing my research and making some more concrete plans. I signed up to a volunteering retreat with the RSPB, found a driving instructor, and made enquiries to find other opportunities I could get involved with.

It started well. I took on more responsibilities when we took our Guides on a unit holiday to Seven Springs later that summer and finally got round to facing my fear and learning the skill I’d been putting off since I was 17: learning how to drive. I also organised the Ashton Division bowling event which took place in December 2019, which was unlike anything I’d ever been involved with before. My parents deserve eternal thanks for agreeing to ferry hundreds of party bags to Hollywood Bowl so each and every child could have a snack during the event. All in all, things were looking good and I was excited about the next steps of my Queen’s Guide Award journey.

Unfortunately, the momentum I’d built up was rapidly halted when, in early 2020, the COVID-19 global health crisis put everyone into lockdowns. I certainly couldn’t continue with my planned unit residential or go on my volunteering holiday anymore. Thankfully, I had a great support network in my family and Guiding friends, who helped me to think outside the box and find alternative ways of fulfilling elements of the award without breaking any laws!

I took the lead on our unit’s Zoom Guiding programme, finding innovative ways to engage Guides virtually. I even managed to organise a virtual visit from a representative of the Welsh RNLI, who would normally be too far away to speak to the Guides! I also wrote blog posts for Girlguiding North West England’s Guiding Vibe, ranging in topic from the things Guiding has taught me through to eco hacks to try and help people live a little more sustainably. Having said goodbye to the other volunteering opportunities I’d had lined up, I instead trained to be an NHS Check In and Chat volunteer, ringing up those who were vulnerable and isolated at home during the pandemic. To fit alongside this, I designed and carried out my research project to investigate the importance of public communication during a global health crisis. Thanks to the powers of social media, I had a huge number of responses to my survey from all over the world and so was able to put together an interesting and comprehensive presentation of the results of my research.

When things eventually opened up a bit more, I persuaded my friends and brother that what they really, really wanted to do with their newly regained freedom was to go exploring the biodiversity of Greater Manchester with me. Together, we walked many miles at many spots across the area, including the Ashton Canal, Heaton Park and Daisy Nook, to name a few. I got to catalogue multiple species of sheep, birds and plants. My friends got to spend time exploring the outdoors once more. My brother got a Sri Lankan coin to add to his collection which he found on one of our walks. Whilst not entirely fitting the biodiversity purpose of the trip, it did help to convince him that he’d made the right choice in agreeing to join us on our explorations. As a result of the explorations, my family also ate more blackberries than we’d probably had in years, because we came home from several of our walks weighed down with fruit we’d picked along the way. Sharing our homemade crumbles, cakes and ice cream with others was an added bonus to this particular element of my Queen’s Guide Award.

Earlier this year, I joined the team who ran the Circus Book and Go camp at Seven Springs. The weather was glorious and I had a tremendous (if tiring) time making sure all of the attendees enjoyed themselves and helping the event to run as smoothly as possible. This year also saw me finally getting my Going Away With licence signed off, when I successfully took my Guides and some from another local unit to Seven Springs for a Platinum Jubilee themed holiday. The additional highlight of this year has been me finally passing my driving test, after COVID restrictions stopped them being available for such a long time.

When I met Mel at the end of this summer, it was to hand in a Queen’s Guide Award which looked nothing like I had originally intended it to. But, if anything, it’s better because it kept me going when a lot of things stopped. I’m also hugely proud of the fact that, despite all the obstacles which ended up in the way, I still managed to complete it in the specified time without the need for an extension. I only managed it thanks to the support of a massive number of people, including but not limited to Mel, Christine, Lesley, Colleen, Gwen, Becca and all my family (especially my Mum, Dad and brother, Elliott). Thank you everyone.”

Congratulations Charlotte we are all so proud of you!