Melville Street Memories: Emma Wright

Date: 8th Mar 2021 Author: Scout Websites

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

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.

Girls take what they do in guiding with them as they grow up. Everything from working in a team, to taking the lead, to speaking out on issues they care about. It helps them develop the skills and confidence to become the young women they want to be. ’