In May this year, 9 young people (including 3 current pupils) from Christ College in Brecon, Wales, attended a presentation in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, London, where they received their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from BBC Wales Today presenter Jennifer Jones, after sharing their experiences with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Princess Eugenie of York.
During the Gold Award Presentation, the members of the Royal Family congratulated the group from Christ College on their successes and heard about their DofE journeys, which took each young person 12-18 months of hard work and dedication.
Those who achieve a Gold DofE Award will volunteer, learn a skill, get fit, take part in a week long residential and plan and undertake an expedition in Wild Country. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading achievement award for young people, DofE programmes enable any young person, aged 14-24, to develop key skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment and team working.
Barney Goodrich, who is the DofE Leader at Christ College, said, “We are very proud of our recipients, who we have seen work incredibly hard to achieve this distinguished award.
“They undertook a range of projects including the completion of a gruelling four-day expedition in the Black Mountains and residential activities that ranged from sailing expeditions off the Pembrokeshire Coast to Cadet courses in the Yukon, Canada. All completed volunteering sections requiring strong levels of commitment over eighteen months including regular assistance with the Disability Sports Group at Brecon Leisure Centre and helping people in need at Usk House, the Day Hospice in Brecon.”
“Working for the community and developing such important skills throughout the whole process has been a life-changing experience for them all and I am delighted that they have been able to celebrate together at such a prestigious ceremony at Buckingham Palace.”
Speaking about her DofE experience, Jessica Facey, who was one of the Gold Award holders at the presentation, said, “I decided to take on the challenges of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award whilst doing my A Levels so that I could not only push myself physically but to also develop important life skills such as teamwork, personal organisation and perseverance. At times it was gruelling and overwhelming but usually it was fun!
“The most rewarding aspect for me was to be able to give back to my local community through volunteering. Along with some friends from school, I helped out with a disability sports club in the Brecon Leisure Centre every Friday evening for a year. It was really enjoyable and gave me a much better perspective about what is important in life!
“I chose to do a sailing course for my residential section with the Royal Yacht Association spending five days and four nights on a yacht off the coast of South West Wales with complete strangers (aged 17 – 65). I was immediately thrown into the deep-end, as this was a completely new skill combined with living in a very small space with each other. By the end of it, I had made some great friends, was able to cook a delicious meal in the tiny galley, and helmed the boat with dolphins bow-riding along as well as earning my ‘Competent Crew’ qualification.
“During the physically demanding expedition section (80km over 4 days in a mountainous area carrying all your equipment) you also learn how to exercise patience and the importance of teamwork within your group.
“I have definitely gained in confidence, pushing myself out of my comfort zone by trying new activities that have turned out to be amazing experiences as well as developing skills and sports I have loved for years.
For me, having to make decisions in tricky situations has been the most challenging aspect and I know that this, and other skills I have learnt whilst participating in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, will certainly serve me well in the future.
“I would like to thank my teachers, volunteer parents as well as my parents and grandparents for their support and encouragement. It has been a really enjoyable balance to my A level studies and meeting members of the Royal Family and receiving my Gold Award from Jennifer Jones in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in May with fellow students from Christ College, Brecon was a fantastic highlight to complete this journey.
“Ironically, the worst blisters I experienced weren’t from the 80km expedition in the Black Mountains but from wearing brand new shoes around London for the day of the Award Ceremony!”
There are currently around 440,000 young people taking part in a DofE programme across the UK through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, young offender institutions and youth groups.
To find out more about the DofE and how it enables young people to succeed, please visit www.DofE.org