Girlguiding’s chief guide team celebrate five-year term successes

Chief guide team reflect on their successes as tenure ends.

Girlguiding’s three most senior volunteers, Chief Guide Amanda Medler MBE, Deputy Chief Guide Julie Bell and Assistant Chief Guide Emma Guthrie, are due to finish their term at the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women at the end of February.

Current Chief Guide, Amanda Medler MBE, has been involved in guiding her whole life since joining as a Brownie aged seven. Amanda qualified as a Brownie leader whilst studying at Loughborough University and went on to become a Guide leader in Middlesex in 1989. In 2018 she was appointed chief guide.

During her five-year term, Amanda led Girlguiding’s 70,000 volunteers through the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing them adapt and evolve, turning to virtual guiding to ensure girls were still able to access the support, fun, friendship and adventure on offer. Amanda also championed the return of face-to-face guiding, and encouraged girls back into unit meetings, their community and on trips when restrictions allowed.

Chief Guide Amanda has dedicated a huge amount of her time and energy to the charity’s strategy and planning processes, providing vision and direction for what will add most value for Girlguiding and its members, now and in the future, always putting the girl at the very heart. In 2021, in recognition of her 30 years dedicated and outstanding service, Amanda was awarded an MBE.

In June 2022, Amanda led the start of Girlguiding’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations by lighting one of the charity’s 70 beacons at one of the national activity centres, Foxlease in Hampshire, symbolically bringing thousands of girls together in celebration across the UK and beyond.

Amanda Medler MBE said: “My time as chief guide has been memorable. No one could have predicted the tide of events that have taken place over the past couple of years, and I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve achieved together.

“We have worked to bring together senior volunteers and staff to navigate external challenges – from the success of our return to guiding group who led our COVID response throughout the pandemic to coming together to remember and celebrate both the life and service of our patron of 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II.

“I want to personally thank everyone I have volunteered alongside in this role, and all Girlguiding volunteers for their time, care and dedication week in, week out to serve our young members wherever they are. I hope the new chief guide will enjoy the role as much as I have.” 

Like Amanda, Deputy Chief Guide Julie Bell joined the charity as a Brownie when she was seven years old and has held several different roles inspiring many volunteers and staff over the years. Julie is also a Guide and Ranger leader.

In her role Julie has helped to provide inspiring leadership to Girlguiding’s volunteers, ensuring they felt supported and able to flourish in their roles. She saw members’ voices heard across the UK, providing support to the charity’s country and region chief commissioners.

Julie Bell, Deputy Chief Guide, said: “Having the opportunity to take on the role and responsibilities of deputy chief guide has been extremely rewarding. Like all volunteering roles at Girlguiding, it has presented so many opportunities and experiences. Guiding has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I am grateful to have been able to help many more volunteers on their journeys.

“I’m excited for the new chief guide team and wish them the best.” 

Assistant Chief Guide, Emma Guthrie joined the organization as a Brownie and later started her guiding career as a young leader in 2007. Since then, she’s held a variety of roles within the charity, including Girlguiding peer educator, qualified trainer and Ranger leader running weekly unit meetings for girls aged 14- 18 years.

Emma has represented Girlguiding externally, helping to give girls a voice on important issues and raise awareness of the amazing opportunities on offer. She focused on the promotion and delivery of the guiding programme when it was overhauled in 2018, as well as the development and contribution of Girlguiding's Advocate panel.

Emma Guthrie, Assistant Chief Guide, said: “My role as assistant chief guide has been a real adventure. I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved from the launch of our new programme to our virtual guiding offer in response to the pandemic. We’ve faced challenges we couldn’t have even imagined, but as a team we’ve overcome them, and I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity.

“I wish the best for the next chief guide team, it’s a fantastic privilege to be volunteering for Girlguiding in such a senior role.”

Catherine Irwin, Girlguiding Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Amanda, Julie and Emma, and I’m proud of our achievements as we continue to strive as a charity to do our best for girls across the UK. The optimism, perseverance and determination shown by the chief guide team has been instrumental in helping to steer Girlguiding through both the successes and challenges of the past five years.  

On behalf of the charity, I’d like to thank them for all the work they have done as volunteers. They will leave a lasting imprint in their support for other volunteers and their commitment to opportunities for girls and young women.”

Angela Salt, CEO of Girlguiding, said: “Our Chief Guide and her team, Amanda, Julie and Emma have worked tirelessly over the last five years to lead our volunteers and girls through unprecedented times. We’ve needed to adapt and evolve at pace to ensure we’ve continued supporting as many girls as possible, whilst also considering the impact of the pandemic and cost of living crisis on our amazing volunteers we wouldn’t exist without. I am grateful for everything they have done and to have had the opportunity to work with such a great team.”

Liz Brown who joined the team in 2022 will stay on in her role as assistant chief guide for the next six months to support the new chief guide when she starts at the end of February.