Silver Fish Award

The Silver Fish is the highest adult award in Girlguiding. It is awarded for outstanding service to Girlguiding combined with service to world Guiding. The award has changed greatly since it first appeared in 1911, initially being awarded to girls on completion of a number of badges, then via numerous stages to the highest award in the Guiding movement worldwide, and then on to its position as a Girlguiding award.

Silver Fish Award
Created1911 (108 years ago)

Award criteria

The Silver Fish is not earned, but given to those who are nominated and are considered worthy of the award. Recipients must be members of Girlguiding, have done outstanding service to Guiding in more than one capacity and made a contribution to world Guiding.[1] Ideally candidates should be at least 18 months from retirement and have held an appointment within 6 months of the nomination.[1]


The award of Silver Fish existed from the beginning of the Guiding movement. It is mentioned in the November 1909 edition of the Boy Scout Headquarters Gazette in "The Scheme for 'Girl Guides'". Here a girl must pass seventeen specified efficiency badges.[2] However, in Pamphlet A: Baden-Powell Girl Guides, a Suggestion for Character Training for Girls, also published in 1909, twenty efficiency badges were needed to obtain the Silver Fish.[3] This was later reduced to fifteen and, additionally, good all round work was required.[2] The award was considered a sign of a girl 'who could make her way upstream'.

Around the time of the foundation of the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912, their handbook listed the Silver Fish as the highest honour in Girl Scouting. However, before anyone could earn it, the Golden Eaglet was introduced.[4] Only three American women were awarded the Silver Fish - Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts USA; Anne Hyde Choate, Juliette's goddaughter and the second president of Girl Scouts USA; and Helen Storrow, donor of Our Chalet. In addition, a photograph exists taken in 1921 of Mrs. Benedict (Julia) Crowell, Commissioner of the DC Girl Scouts, posing with the wife of President Warren Harding, General John Pershing, Juliette Gordon Low and a crowd of Girl Scouts. Both Mrs. Low and Mrs. Crowell appear to be wearing Silver Fish awards. The DC Girl Scouts were very active in supporting the US war effort in WWI, providing food to American soldiers.

In October 1917, the award changed to being given for outstanding service to the movement. At this time, the design also changed from a whiting with its tail in its mouth worn on a silver chain to a swimming fish worn on a dark and light blue striped ribbon.

The award became the highest in worldwide Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting,[5] but then changed to become a Girlguiding specific award.

Olave Baden-Powell was presented with a gold Silver Fish in 1918, then the only one of its kind. In 1995, her daughter Betty Clay was presented with a gold Silver Fish in the form of a brooch.


Safiya Abdel-Rahman[6] 1965Egyptian Federation for Scouts and Girl Guides, also extremely active in sports for girls in Egypt
Vera Armstrong[7]
Nesta G. Ashworth née Maude[8][9] 1911(Given 1911 old-style [one of the first two], also given 1920). One of the girls who showed up at Crystal Palace Rally in 1909 wanting to be Scouts. Later instrumental in the setup of Lone Guides.[10]
Olave Baden-Powell[2]1918Chief Guide. She received a special gold Silver Fish.
Jim Buntine[11] 1966Chief Commissioner of Guides Australia
Mona Burgin (1903–1985)[7][12] 1945Active in New Zealand and as a trainer internationally
Enid, Lady Burnham (1894–1979)[7]Girl Guide Chief Commissioner for England
Mary Chater[7]Music advisor
Anne Hyde ChoateSecond president of Girl Scouts USA and goddaughter of its founder Juliette Gordon Low. Was one of only three people associated with Girl Scouts of the USA to receive a Silver Fish.
Betty Clay 1995Active in Guiding in both Northern Rhodesia and England. Daughter of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell. She received a special gold Silver Fish.
The Honourable Lady Cochrane [7]
The Honourable Beryl Cozens-Hardy [7]
Lady Davies [7]
Irene Fairbairn[13] 1947Chief Commissioner of Guides Australia
Aline Fenwick OBE[14] 1985
Betty Fripp [7]
Dame Anstice Gobbs [7]
Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low1919Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. Was one of only three people associated with Girl Scouts of the USA to receive a Silver Fish.
Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan GBE (1879–1967)[7]
Elizabeth Hartley [7]
Ruth Herrick[15] 1949
Gwen Hesketh [7]
Rose Kerr[7]One of the founders of the Rangers
Alix Liddell [7]
Rotha Lintorn-Orman[8] 1911(Given 1911 old-style [one of the first two]). Another of the girls who showed up at Crystal Palace Rally in 1909 wanting to be Scouts.
Eleanor Manning[11]1954Chief Commissioner of Guides Australia, World Committee of WAGGGS
Dame Joan Marsham[7]Chairman of the Guiding Association's executive committee for 10 years from 1938.
Margaret Martin [7]
Princess Mary[2]
A. M. Maynard [7]
Lady Pellatt[16] 1922First Chief Commissioner for Girl Guides of Canada (1912–1921)
Joyce Price[17] 1967Australian Chief Commissioner, Chairman of WAGGGS.
Shylie Katherine Rymill[5]1948Australian Girl Guide Commissioner. Her son Henry was also involved in Scouting, becoming South Australian Chief Commissioner in 1936, and receiving the Silver Wolf Award in 1943.[18]
Jean Helen St. Clair Campbell, Lady Stratheden and Campbell CBE (?–1956)[7] Girl Guide Chief Commissioner for the British Commonwealth (1949-1956)
Helen StorrowWas one of only three people associated with Girl Scouts of the USA to receive a Silver Fish.
Violet Synge [7]Chief Commissioner of England
Verona Wallace Williamson [7]
Penelope Wood-Hill [7]
Rosa Ward [7]

See also


  1. "Awards Procedure". Girlguiding South West England. Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2007.
  2. Kerr, Rose (1976). Story of the Girl Guides 1908-1938. London: Girl Guides Association.
  3. "Fact Sheet- The Three Baden-Powells:Robert, Agnes and Olave" (PDF). Girl Guides of Canada Guides du Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2006. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
  4. Girl Scout Gold Award Planning Book. Girl Scouts of River Bluffs Council.
  5. Gibbard, Joyce. "Rymill, Shylie Katharine (1882 - 1959)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Australian National University. Retrieved 2 May 2007.
  6. Mazhar, Inas (15–21 April 2004). "Alternate Ideas". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on 30 September 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  7. Liddell, Alix (1976). Story of the Girl Guides 1938-1975. London: Girl Guides Association.
  8. District History: Pre-1950 Archived 7 July 2013 at, Liphook District Guides
  9. Nesta G. Ashworth:
  10. Lone Guides: "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "History". Guides Australia. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  12. Bright, Judith. "Burgin, Annie Mona 1903 1985". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  13. Maunders, David. "Fairbairn, Irene Florence (1899 - 1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition. Australian National University. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  14. UK Guiding Magazine November 1985
  15. Bright, Judith (7 April 2006). "Herrick, Hermione Ruth 1889 - 1983". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  16. "Legacy Giving". Guides of Canada - Guides du Canada. Retrieved 25 September 2005.
  17. "Price, Joyce Ethel". Bright Sparcs. Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  18. Gibberd, Joyce, 'Rymill, Henry Way (1907–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 26 April 2012.
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