Melville Street Memories: Emma Wright

Monday 8th March 2021

Guide/Ranger leader and District Commissioner Emma Wright kicks off a new series of Melville Street blog posts, reminiscing about Edinburgh’s HQ. If you’re interested in sharing your memories, please email girlguidingedin.marcom@gmail.com.

Anyone who knows me within Girlguiding Edinburgh knows that I come from a unit of Guiding royalty, having earned my leadership qualification with Jennifer Hamilton’s Guide unit. Jennifer, I like to think, had three homes—her own (which, in itself, was a hub for Guiding), our meeting church, and Melville Street. Where else but Melville Street could a Guider renew her first aid qualification, have a gossip, and attend a charity comedy night all within 24 hours?

I’ve been trying to pinpoint my first visit to Melville Street. I reckon it was around the summer of 2011, after I’d returned from a 10-day camping trip with Jennifer in the Netherlands. My mum ironed my international neckie especially, and we did a group presentation on that old stage in front of (I hope) interested Guiders for Edinburgh’s annual international night. I remember (tunelessly) singing the camp song at the end, and Jennifer genuinely looking proud. Since then, I attended two more international nights—once as a Ranger, and once a leader, having taken the girls to the same international camp myself. 

We all loved to complain about Melville Street—particularly when we were there. When I completed my first aid qualification as a leader in training, it was too cold. When I attended committee meetings, it was tired-looking. When I co-hosted a female-only comedy night, it was too cramped.

Yet, we all loved it. Where else could you meet half the county at a potluck celebrating our own leaders? Or laugh about the amount of colanders hoarded by a certain Guider while we sorted copious amounts of equipment in the hall? Where else could we find Fiona, Rhian, and Kara to bat our eyelids at and ask for favours?

I will miss the time I spent at Melville Street, with the people who are still here, and those who are gone. At 12, standing on that stage for the first time, I didn’t think I would still be in Guiding at 22, and certainly not as a co-commissioner with a dream team of leaders in the units I volunteer with.

Saying goodbye to our headquarters at the moment is surreal; I would have loved to spend the night packed in together with every Guider we could fit, sharing memories. I’m excited for Edinburgh to get a new headquarters, and as a county, I’m sure we can’t wait until Lindsey gets to raise the flag for the first time.

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