ROYALTY and girlguiding chiefs from across the world descended on a 17th century Ribble Valley manor today.

Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex, president of Girl Guiding UK, took part in a Commonwealth Chief Commissioners Conference at Waddow Hall.

Countess Sophie met with delegates from 35 countries including Rwanda, Pakistan, Madagascar and Poland to discuss the benefits of girl guiding at one of the organisation's flagship training centres in Waddington.

The conference was arranged to allow senior volunteers from the Commonwealth Associations to share experiences and discuss how to support girls to develop their potential prior to the World Guiding conference in Edinburgh next week.

The Countess met with the delegates and talked about guiding in their home countries as well as taking part in sessions looking at Girlguiding UK GOLD (Guiding Overseas Linked with Development) projects, the role mentoring plays in developing new leaders and how to maintain the guiding heritage.

Gina James, centre manager at Waddow Hall, said: "We were thrilled to have the countess here.

"It was a privilege to host the event and it is an honour to meet ladies from across the world who are passionate about girlguiding."

Countess Sophie made a flying visit to the conference which will last until Sunday with international delegates witnessing UK guiding in action during the Tartan Takeover camp for Brownies and Guides at the weekend.

The girls will take part in a range of adventurous activities and speak to the chief commissioners about their guiding experiences.

Gill Slocombe, chief guide of Girlguiding UK said, “We were thrilled that the Countess of Wessex was able to attend the Commonwealth Chief Commissioners Conference at Waddow Hall.

"The volunteers from around the world are dedicated to supporting young women to have their voices heard and having the Countess visit and listen to their experiences was a huge boost.”