A Southampton student has received an award from the Queen.

Bronwyn Powell, 20, has been a member of the girls-only youth organisation since she was five years old.

She said that at the time she found a place to relax and be herself.

However, 15 years later, the 20-year-old student at the University of Southampton, who has autism, is now a leader for a group of girls aged four to seven where she can unwind and be herself.

“I was getting overwhelmed about once a week without realising why”, said Bronwyn.

“Guiding was the place where I could chill, it was a stress-free part of my week. Masking certain behaviours can be exhausting.

“And not understanding why you’re tired all the time, or why people aren’t talking to you when you’re trying your best, can be quite challenging.

“At Guides, no one avoided me. There was a mindset that everyone there was equal, and everyone could do anything they chose to do.”

She added: “Autism just means ‘me’ to me - it has always been a part of who I am and what I do. It empowers me and gives me motivation. It means that if I make a commitment to do something, I’ll do it.”

Daily Echo: Bronwyn PowellBronwyn Powell (Image: Girlguiding )

Bronwyn believes this has helped her to develop the commitment and determination needed to achieve the top award in guiding – the Queen’s Guide Award.

She said: “My commitment to seeing things through, combined with my love of guiding, was what led to me completing my Queen’s Guide award.

“I tend to fixate on things that will help me to learn or improve in some way. I also surround myself as much as I can with what I love, so I’ve always wanted to achieve everything I can in guiding.”

As a leader at Girlguiding, she has been named ‘Dragonfly’ by the girls.

For Bronwyn, being an adult volunteer still provides her with that hour of the week when she can unwind and be herself.

She said: “When I started volunteering at Rainbows, one of the leaders showed me a room at the back of the meeting place where I could go if I ever felt overwhelmed and needed to take a break.

“If the other leaders think things are getting overwhelming for me, they’ll ask me if I need to step back - sometimes before I even recognise it myself.”