As many of you may already know, I thrive in the outdoors and therefore the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme suited me perfectly when I was at school. Consequently, I completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards between the ages of 15 and 18, whilst studying at Queens College, Taunton and Canford School.
Through completing the different sections involved in the DofE awards, I was able to partake in many different physical activities as well as; develop my musical skills on the piano, learn British Sign Language, volunteer in a whole host of different environments (from dementia homes to children’s liturgy groups), and teach younger children to climb in Spain.
However, the biggest challenges arose on the DofE expeditions of which, walking the length of Dartmoor, canoeing the length of the River Wye, and exploring the Brecon Beacons were some of the highlights. These expeditions required teamwork and determination with a large quantity of team morale! However, despite bad weather, serious injuries, and major navigation mistakes each expedition was successfully completed and I learnt a lot from working with 3 different teams all presenting a range of different personalities and abilities.
Moreover, all the effort was worth it when I was invited to visit St. James’ Palace, in London on the 29th November 2016 to be presented with my Gold Award by the Duke of Edinburgh himself!
I was allowed to take along one guest with me so an excited Mummy organised a London adventure! On arrival at the Palace we were shown into the Queen Anne Room along with all the other Gold Award holders from the South West. After a motivational speech from the TV presenter, Matt Johnson,who was the special guest for the South West presentations, we warmly welcomed HRH Prince Phillip into the room.
I was extremely lucky as HRH Prince Phillip came over and spoke with me about my award as he had a particular interest in those who had travelled abroad as part of their award, for which I had taught climbing in Spain. He was very charming and very witty and as a result got many laughs especially from the parents! He didn’t hold back when expressing his dislike for Dartmoor, backing up this remark with “there’s a reason they built a prison on there!”
After being awarded my certificate and having a group photo with the other Gold Award holders and Matt Johnson, it was unfortunately time to leave the palace and head out into the streets of London, which were wonderfully lit with the christmas lights!