AN INSPIRATIONAL young woman has achieved the top Girl Guiding award for her exceptional leadership and community action.

Maria Tubbs, from Chineham, was presented with the Queen’s Guide Award at a ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall, in London, by Chief Guide Gill Slocombe.

The 24-year-old assistant leader of the 3rd Chineham Brownies spent several years completing a series of demanding challenges to achieve the top honour, which is open to young women in Guiding aged 16 to 25.

Maria, known as Poppy to her Brownies, embarked on several exhibitions, set up a community action project on numeracy, and devoted a year to cultivating a skill, as part of the challenge.

The economist went on trips to Japan, Iceland, Northern Ireland and America for the Queen’s Guide Award, where she took part in exciting activities including water skiing and high ropes.

She said: “Guiding has made me who I am. I have been to Japan, Iceland, led campfires, been in charge of a Brownie camp, and I even met my fiancé at my university Guides and Scouts society.”

Maria spent two years working towards the award, while also completing a university degree in economics at Bath, starting a new job as a civil servant in London, and planning her wedding to fiancé Richard Bennett in July.

Maria joins an impressive list of Queen’s Guide Award recipients including BBC journalist Kate Silverton.

Mrs Slocombe said: “The Queen’s Guide Award embodies all that’s best about Guiding. The adventures that recipients experience, the skills they learn and the friendships and confidence they build will last a lifetime – and they prove immensely valuable as they pursue their goals in life.

“This challenge has helped them become confident, skilled, self-reliant young women ready to make a positive difference to the world around them, and I have no doubt that they will.”