Saying Goodbye to Julie Bell, as our region chief commissioner

We’re extremely proud to announce that our Region Chief Commissioner, Julie Bell, has been appointed as Deputy Chief Guide with effect from 1 August 2018.  We’re sad to see her go but equally excited to see her fuel her spirited commitment to Girlguiding on a national scale.

Julie has had a powerful connection with Girlguiding since joining Brownies when she was seven years old. Years later, she remains forthright about her focus to empower girls.  Now, Julie leads her own units for Guides and Rangers and continues to share the excitement of the badges and challenges, and more recently the brand new programme. She doesn’t stop there though; Julie is also the Chief Commissioner Representative on Girlguiding’s Nominations and Governance committee.

Having been recently shortlisted as a “Person with Purpose” at the Northern Power Women awards and as “Volunteer Manager of the Year” in the North West Charity awards, her dedication to prioritising Girlguiding is truly admirable.  When she’s not making Girlguiding a better place, Julie is Head of Services for Libraries, Museums, Culture and Registration services for Lancashire County Council. She is also involved at board level with Active Lancashire, the National Youth Libraries board, and locally with Garstang and District children’s festival committee.


Julie’s new role will see her working closely with lead volunteers in specific areas, such as digital transformation, activity centres and membership communications. She will also develop safeguarding initiatives, quality, and awards. Along with the Amanda Medler, Chief Guide, and Emma Guthrie, Assistant Chief Guide, they will, as a team,  provide operational leadership for all volunteers. We, as a region, could not think of anyone more worthy than Julie for such a respectable role. It has been tremendous to follow her four-and-a-half-year journey as region Chief Commissioner.

Here’s what Julie had to say about her time at Girlguiding North West England.

What have you enjoyed the most about being a region chief commissioner? I have enjoyed meeting so many different units and volunteers. NWE is a pretty massive geographical area and yet during the last four-and-half years with Mel and Bekky, we have been able to visit so many different places. I love the diversity of the region and the sheer enthusiasm and passion everyone has for Girlguiding.

What have you found most challenging? The one thing that everyone finds challenging is around communication -- how we communicate with each other and how we challenge perceptions of Girlguiding but that is what I love. I like to challenge myself and there are always people around us to help us find solutions. 

What will you miss the most? I have absolutely loved working with Mel and Bekky and I will miss them (not that I won't still see them at all), but I was really lucky they agreed to work with me at the start. I'll miss the staff team in the region office and the fab building -- but I will still be in Lancashire so never far away. I will miss the fabulous advisers and county commissioners who keep me in check and inspire me at our Executive meetings.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role? I'm looking forward to working with volunteers and staff from across the UK. It's a great privilege to be given this role and I'm excited to be working with Amanda and Emma. We have just revealed our new programme and that is a great opportunity to have new conversations about how we all explore it together. I have responsibility for supporting some great volunteer’s leads and staff which I know I am going to enjoy.

What advice would you give to members/people hoping to develop chief roles within the charity sector?  I think if it is general or Guiding, it must be that you need to spend time getting to know and understand the team and staff you work with as the Chief. Volunteers are a very precious commodity as they give so many hours ; as the lead volunteer, you need to be clear about what support and governance there is in place and how your organisation functions. You need to be always on the lookout for potential new leaders and people who may want to take on a more senior role. You also need to create environments and events where that can happen. Make positive use of all communication channels open to you for network purposes. Most of all, develop a positive attitude and exhibit a “can do” type of behaviour. Never be afraid to explore new avenues and always have a sense of humour about your person because inevitably there are tough times.

Finally, why Girlguiding? I have loved Girlguiding since I started as a brownie. The organisation always gives me a new opportunity to try something different, to meet different people, and to travel. It always takes me beyond my comfort zone so I am always learning new things. The absolutely best part is the friendships I have been fortunate to have with members across the world and in the UK. Also, having the time to spend listening to what amazing achievements and adventures our members have, is astonishing. I could go on and on and that's why this is such a great step for me to take next -- to see what more I can learn about Girlguiding and what I can give back in return.

Is there anything else you would like to share? A huge thank you to everyone in NWE thanks for having me as your Region Chief Commissioner, it's been fabulous!