Earlier this month we announced our new Region President, Michelle Skeer!
Despite Michelle being appointed during the Covid-19 lockdown, we have lots to look forward to involving Michelle, once we can return to guiding as normal.
Michelle is Chief Constable for Cumbria Police, so a very busy woman with a super important job, but, we’re thrilled that she’ll also be working with us to inspire girls and young women to push boundaries and fulfill their potential - just as she does in her policing career and beyond!
We had a chance to catch up with Michelle and she shared why she’s happy to be a part of the charity again and the message she wants to give our young members.
Get to know our newest Region President.
What’s been your Girlguiding involvement?
It was fairly brief due to the fact I was swimming at quite a high level competitively and this took over any spare time that I had. I wish I could have continued as a Guide but, from the time I was a member, I remember the friendships and the commitment from Girlguiding to provide positive experiences for the development of girls. Looking at Girlguiding today, the values and unity are very much the same, while evolving to keep pace with modern society and to change the lives of today’s girls and young women.
What is your highlight and favourite memory of guiding?
My fondest memory is the friends that I made; I had recently moved to a different county just before I started Guides and my unit meetings gave me a sense of belonging in an otherwise unfamiliar place. I also loved the uniform – topped off with the hat – which may be why I grew up to join a uniformed service! I loved earning badges and championing them on the arm of my shirt. I managed to earn my needlework badge, which was quite ironic as my needlework teacher said she had never been beaten by a pupil – I was her first challenge and defeater!
I remember being in a group with some older girls who I looked up to and aspired to be. Interestingly, my drive to pursue policing was borne out of wanting to do the same for girls and young women and to set a positive example for them. Girlguiding is a strong movement with great values and is a space where girls can have fun and be safe – a very enjoyable part of my youth that has remained with me through adulthood.
What made you want to become President? How do you feel about being appointed the role?
I have over 30 years’ service as a police officer and over 11 years as a chief officer in the police. It is important to demonstrate that, as a female leader, you can balance a career with family life. It should be about choice and opportunity. It is a great honour to take this role and I hope to show our young leaders of the future that you can achieve anything you want if you are determined enough.
What are you most looking forward to in your role?
I am looking forward to meeting young people and being involved in such an established yet progressive organisation. I hope that I can utilise my experience to assist in any way I can to help them achieve their future ambitions, to stop at nothing, and to fulfill their truest potential.
What message would you give to the girls and young women navigating today’s modern world?
When I joined the police 30 years ago, it was a male dominated profession and female officers rarely got into specialist departments such as criminal investigation and roads policing. However, I was determined to make it as a detective and took every opportunity to ensure I achieved my goal. I was able to serve at every rank as a detective. I combined this wonderful career with having three children, managing the work life balance. I have spent my career pushing the boundaries, achieving different promotions and role experiences.
I hope I have made it easier for both female and male colleagues following. Being appointed Chief Constable of Cumbria is very special to me as this is my home county and has been the ultimate career achievement, as I am the first female Chief Constable in Cumbria, as well as being the first homegrown Chief Constable. My message to my younger self and to young women would be believe in yourself, grasp the opportunities and keep trying as, through drive and determination, you can achieve your ambitions.