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An inspirational young woman from Surbiton rises to the challenge to achieve top Girlguiding award

Hazel Leeper, 27, was presented with her Queen’s Guide Award at the House of Commons on Saturday 25 November by Sally Illsley, Deputy Chief Guide.

Physiotherapist and explorer, Justine Gosling, whose adventures include a gruelling four month, 5,000 mile expedition through 16 countries for charity, was in attendance to give the recipients an inspirational talk.

To achieve the prestigious award Hazel took on a series of personal challenges in areas such as social action, voluntary work and travel. Fewer than 150 young women out of the hundreds of thousands of Girlguiding members are presented with the award each year and they have to complete their challenges before they turn 26.

Hazel took 2 years to finish her challenges. These included Service as a Guide Leader and Peer Educator, exploration of the Isle of Wight, ran biodiversity events for local Rainbow and Brownei units as well as completing her residential at the Hong Kong 95th Anniversary Camp.

Justine, a former Brownie and Guide spoke passionately about her own volunteering work; as an international emergency disaster responder in Haiti last year and helping to build shelters and school kitchens in Africa – alongside her day job as a physiotherapist on an intensive care ward and planning and undertaking polar expeditions.

Justine Gosling said: “It was an honour to attend the Queen’s Guide Awards and to meet the young women who have worked hard to complete the award and celebrate their achievements. I was proud to be invited to speak at the ceremony about my own charity adventures, the challenges I faced, and how I overcame these to achieve my goals. The best part was hearing all the different stories about each of the projects, which have led these women to become such amazing role models.”

Sally Illsley, Deputy Chief Guide, said: “It was a real privilege to present these inspirational young women with their awards. Hearing about the challenges they overcame to complete their projects, and make a difference in their communities and beyond demonstrated true resilience and passion. Attaining the Queen’s Guide Award is no mean feat and they should be incredibly proud of their achievements. Congratulations to them all.”

Girlguiding was able to host this event thanks to support received from players of People’s Postcode Lottery – which raises money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally. For more information about how to get involved with Girlguiding, the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK, visit www.girlguiding.org.uk.

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