AN EAST Lancashire woman has been given a top national award for her leadership of local girl guides.

Lara McToal, 27, from Oswaldtwistle, has received Girlguiding UK’s top accolade, the coveted Queen’s Guide Award, at a special ceremony held at the House of Lords .

The award was presented to Lara by Baroness Angela Smith and Girlguiding UK’s Chief Guide Gill Slocombe who is herself a Queen’s Guide.

A select group of just 20 young women from around the UK joined Lara in receiving their Queen’s Guide Award. The award sees participants take the lead in a number exciting areas including developing a personal skill, working within pioneering community action projects, and overseeing ambitious outdoor pursuits.

Guide leader Lara’s Queen’s Guide achievements included starting a new Guide group, working on a homelessness project, and taking Guide groups on camping trips.

She said: “Guiding has changed my life and encouraged me to be proactive within the local community.

“It has provided structure in my life over the last 20 years and has empowered me to challenge the community’s perceptions of young women.

“I hope I have also inspired young women to be dynamic members of society.

The Queen’s Guide Award is the most prestigious guiding award open to members between the ages of 16 and 25.

As well as the activities carried out by Lara, other recipients experienced challenging and innovative programmes such as working with the homeless and raising money for national charities.

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: “Over the years the Queen’s Guide Award has given many young women an amazing sense of empowerment and confidence. I hope they will serve as an inspiration to many more young women all over the country who are thinking about getting involved in guiding.

“I’m sure the experience of the presentation itself will be just one of the happy memories they will look back on in years to come.”