A former Aylesbury Girl Guide who credits the movement with helping her to be a captain of industry has taken up the highest role in the organisation.
Valerie le Vaillant moved to Aylesbury’s Bedgrove estate in the 1970s when her father John Owen found work at the town’s Lloyds Bank.
She, her two sisters and her mother Audrey were heavily involved in the Girlguiding movement.
Audrey was a Brownie Guide leader, a Guides leader and district leader of the Akeman branch from 1978 to 83.
Valerie and her siblings joined the 12th Aylesbury Guides, following on from their involvement with the organisation in their previous home of Newcastle.
And speaking to this newspaper after being appointed Chief Guide – the most senior volunteer position and chair of Girlguiding’s board of trustees, Valerie said: “I firmly believe that girls can do anything, given the right confidence, self belief and support and the opportunity to have amazing fun and incredible adventures along the way.
“That, for me, is what makes Girlguiding so special. Girls can do anything and guiding can help them do it.
“So I am incredibly honoured to have been chosen to be the next chief guide.
“What gets me really excited is helping us to live up to our values, to be an exciting charity for girls and young women.
“To help them develop into strong, assured and happy women who have the confidence to succeed in life, and to do so through fun and adventure sits at the heart of Guiding.”
And mum of three girls Valerie certainly benefited from the skills that Guiding gave her.
The former Aylesbury High School pupil has enjoyed a highly sucessful career in the property sector and was awarded an OBE for services to ‘architecture and the community in East London’ in 2001.
In 2009 she was made a cabinet office ambassador to help champion equality and diversity in ministerial public appointments and in 2015 she won a lifetime achievement award at the national Women In Construction awards.
Girlguiding chief executive Julie Bentley, said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Val as our new chief Guide. She is a fabulously strong and positive role model for girls and young women.”