Jillian van Turnhout awarded WAGGGS Medal of Service

At the 38th World Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, it was announced that Jillian van Turnhout was awarded a WAGGGS Medal of Service. The WAGGGS Medal of Service is the highest form of recognition that WAGGGS can bestow and is awarded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in their outstanding service to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting at national and global level.

In making the announcement, Jess Bond, World Board member and Chair, People Committee gave the following testimonial:

“2023 Volunteer Medal of Service is awarded to former Chief Commissioner of the Irish Girl Guides and a member of the WAGGGS Governance Committee, Jillian van Turnhout, from Ireland.

Jillian has tirelessly given her time, her knowledge, her energy and her talents to the Movement in so many varied ways, over many years of dedicated service.

Governance work is often done quietly in the background. It is because of dedicated volunteers like Jillian that WAGGGS has a strong governance backbone to support it to achieve its mission and objectives. Jillian has undertaken a variety of smaller and larger tasks as a member of the committee over the past six years, which all together add up to make an outstanding contribution to WAGGGS. Personally, as a World Board member, I know we have really benefitted from the tailored and interactive learning and development sessions she has run over the past few years.

She has also made an immeasurable contribution to the Irish Girl Guides in a wide range of roles – not only in leading the organisation as Chief Commissioner from 2004-2007 and in her current role as Company Secretary and Chair of the Governance Committee, but also by leveraging her professional expertise for guiding’s benefit. For example, using her considerable expertise in safeguarding and ensuring the organisation meets the highest standards and putting girls and young women at the heart of everything by developing a relevant and engaging programme for young members.

Jillian can do a lot herself, but she tries to open doors and give space for others to give things a go. She will be there by your side quietly helping, supporting and championing you to give it a go and to learn in a safe environment. In this way she embodies and lives our Guiding values.”

Jess Bond
World Board member and Chair, People Committee
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

The Medal of Service expresses gratitude to members of the Association whose service is considered to be exceptional, noteworthy and/or extraordinary in nature.

On receiving the award, Jillian van Turnhout said:

“This recognition is the highest form of recognition that WAGGGS can bestow. I am being recognised for my contributions to the WAGGGS Governance Committee and as an active volunteer with the Irish Girl Guides. Thank you, Amanda O’ Sullivan, IGG Chief Commissioner, for accepting the award on my behalf.

I am involved in guiding because I believe to we need more women in leadership and I can play a role by planting the seeds and nurturing the leadership skills of the girls and young women in the Irish Girl Guides. By using my professional governance skills, I can support guiding globally and nationally. As a young guide, I wasn’t too good at gaining badges and so to all our young members, there are always avenues open to be a Trailblazer. To be recognised among 10 million members in 155 countries is truly an immense honour, I am humbled and extremely proud. Thank you.”

At the Irish Girl Guides AGM, on 3 September 2023, Jillian van Turnhout was presented her award consisting of a certificate, medal and special pin. The presentation was made by IGG Chief Commissioner, Amanda O’Sullivan along with guest online participation of Jess Bond, World Board and Chair, People Committee and Fiona Bradley, World Board and Chair, Governance Committee.