THREE years of hard work and dedication has paid off for a Darwen woman who has received the highest award that can be earned in the Guiding movement.

Aimee Schofield, of Coniston Drive, was presented with the Queen’s Guide Award at half-time during Accrington Stanley’s match on Saturday.

Aimee, 24, who joined the Brownies in Hoddlesden when she was seven, had to learn a number of new skills for the award, including learning to play the harp.

She has also taken on a number of challenges, including a year-long practical and research project on healthy eating and young people, and a cultural and historical exploration of the city of Bath.

The former Westholme and QEGS pupil, whose parents are Lynn and Roy Schofield, said she had always wanted to achieve the award.

The assistant leader with Third Holy Trinity Guides said: “I have been in the Guides pretty much my entire life and the award is held up as the big dream.

“I did try to start it when I was 18 but A-levels got in the way, so I started again three years ago as you have to do it before you are 25.

“I am really pleased to have got it, it took a lot of doing.”

Aimee, who is engaged to fellow Manchester student Ben Lee, from Wigan, said learning to play the harp was one of the most enjoyable aspects.

She said: “I had always wanted to play the harp. It is a very pretty instrument.

“I saw an advert for a teacher in Clitheroe and when I spoke to him he said he had given up but forgotten to take it down.

“But I managed to persuade him to teach me in the end.”

She is currently studying for a Doctorate in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester, focusing on the reconstruction of ancient catapults.

Aimee plans to go into academia when she finishes at university, with a focus on outreach.

She said: “I like working with children, and teenagers in particular. I want to get kids interested in history before they start thinking it is just boring.”