After 14 years in the Dannevirke Girls' Brigade, Grace Irwin achieved its highest award in Guiding from Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy on December 5 at Government House in Wellington.
Grace started as a 6-year-old and has over the years worked her way through the age groups from junior to senior primary and then pioneers as a teenager, earning badges as she went – stars, then circles then triangles.
Meeting weekly at Knox Church, she and the 20 other members under the guidance of their leader Anita Martin were involved in educational, physical, spiritual and social activities
In her final year she took on a leadership role with the juniors and also focused on earning her Queen's Badge which took her the whole 2020 year.
This involved a number of challenges, the first of them being two initiative tasks to organise social events. Grace organised a quiz night for the Knox Congregation and a meal for her junior youth group.
A second challenge was a service component and Grace volunteered at First Year's Pre-School, completing 48 hours of helping out between February and October, interrupted by lockdown. She loved it and may consider it as a career after training at UCOL in photography.
Challenge three was a creative assignment for which Grace machine-sewed a queen-sized quilt after learning the skills from Nola Flack and the quilters club. This has proved very useful in the winter months.
Grace completed her Demonstration of Church involvement challenge by joining the Worship Team at Knox Church playing guitar in its band for weekly services. She began learning guitar at Dannevirke High School in Year 9.
The final challenge was to carry out a written and verbal presentation on the theme of "How E-learning compares with traditional learning" – a topic inspired by the lockdown and distance learning which it necessitated.
In normal times Grace would have had to present her oral assignment in Wellington but this was done by Zoom in July due to the restrictions.
Having completed all the tasks/challenges Grace was then invited to Wellington to Government House where she joined a number of other Girls' Brigade recipients and was presented her award by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy who is patron of the brigade.
This was followed in the evening by a dinner at a waterfront restaurant where the recipients received their pins as families looked on.
The next day there was a service at the Island Bay Presbyterian Church at which Grace spoke to their juniors about Girls' Brigade.
Grace has fitted a lot of experiences into her 19 years, completing five years at Dannevirke High School in 2019 as a prefect responsible for international and internal students, representing DHS in Learning Hawke's Bay in this capacity and acting as a chaperone and support person when needed.
She was fully involved in all the activities of the high school participating in the Cactus programme in 2017 and being a student leader in it in 2018.
At her final prizegiving she was awarded Proxime Accesit – runner-up to the Dux and 100 per cent attendance – no mean achievement for such a busy student.
During her school career Grace studied photography under the guidance of teacher Mackenzie Walding and wishes to continue in the subject at UCOL in 2021 and 2022. She played an important role in photography for the school and has been snapping away ever since she was given a camera at age 10.
Her plans to attend a YWAM (Youth with a Mission) camp in Mexico featuring Photo Story Telling last year were unfortunately stymied by Covid-19 and so she focused on her Queen's Award.
With this background Grace's future looks rosy – a student to be honoured and copied by others to come.