On Monday 21 November, eleven of King Alfred’s former students came together to be presented with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at St James’ Palace in London. This is the biggest group that has ever represented King Alfred’s at the awards and was, by far, the highest number of students from any one school present on the day. The Earl of Wessex was in attendance and the awards were presented by Alistair Stewart, ITN’s long-standing newsreader.
Juliane Spiers, DoE Manager said “It was a great occasion when these eleven students came together to collect their Gold Certificates. By far the most we’ve ever had! Some have remained as a group throughout the whole of their 5-year DoE journey. This award really does say something special about them – they are tough, resilient, life-long learners, not afraid to take on a challenge. It’s been a pleasure watching them grow and develop.”
Simon Spiers, CEO of the Vale Academy Trust (of which King Alfred’s Academy is a member), and a regular leader of KA’s DoE Expeditions, said “This is a landmark achievement in the history of the DoE Award at King Alfred’s, which continues to go from strength to strength. Current numbers signed up to participate in the scheme are 100 for Bronze, 160 for Silver and 60 are attempting their Gold DoE this year. We envisage that this number will increase year on year.”
As part of the award, each young person had to complete a residential away from home and not with anyone they knew. Whilst one student helped out in schools and hospitals in Uganda, others took on such challenges as veterinary work in South Africa, supporting outdoor education and helping out with wildlife projects in Namibia and Belize.
New skills acquired as part of the Skills Section included learning to sail, sing, act and photography.
Participant Josie Harrison said “The Duke of Edinburgh scheme has been part of my personal development, with the team aspect being particularly rewarding. I loved every minute!”
Josh Robertson, who completed his residential in Scotland, said “For me it was more about experiencing a new way of exploring places. I’ve got strong family ties in Scotland and being able to see Loch Ness and Loch Awe from a different perspective (canoeing) revealed a whole other side to the area which I’d never have seen otherwise. The castle ruins, burial sites and remote islands were all abundant in environmental and cultural history, none of which I knew about before beginning our Gold expedition.
As regards learning the skills of yachting, I don’t tend to fare well on water! However, manning a yacht around the Thames Estuary and travelling into the North Sea was an experience I won’t forget easily. Over the course of the 4 days we became fluent in yachting language and fully capable of crewing a 45ft vessel. Without the DofE award I would never have had the inspiration to take part in this type of activity.’”
Josh Jones, who also took on yachting for his skills challenge added: “The skills acquired were transferable to our everyday lives as we cooked and lived independently. The sailing was very enjoyable with always something to keep you busy. Both Josh and I completed the course and gained our “Introduction to Yachting” qualification. The trip has encouraged me to pursue water sports and, after university, I will hopefully be able to complete my day skipper and eventually a Yacht Master’s qualification.”
Heartiest congratulations to them all !