A Royal Ocassion
On Thursday 17 May I had the great pleasure of attending the Gold award presentation ceremony of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award that took place in the gardens at Buckingham Palace.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award. It was established in 1956 by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to help, “develop young people on their sometimes difficult path to adulthood”. The award has three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level has different requirements for minimum age before beginning, and length of time that each of the sections of the award has to be carried out over before being completed. The sections that must be completed before gaining the award are skills, physical, volunteering and expedition and at Gold an additional residential section. Young people who complete the award are required to learn new hard and soft skills, increase their physical fitness and well-being, give back to their community, and take on leadership roles and challenges that extend them beyond their comfort zones. Each individual develops personally and increases his or her employability; wider society also benefits from each young person who completes an award.
Here at Langley Grammar School we offer students the opportunity to participate in every level of the award. This is made possible through the work of a small but dedicated team of staff, including members of the Senior Leadership Team, who voluntarily give up their time to ensure this opportunity is made available. The school receives no funding to run the three levels of the Award; we rely on the goodwill of staff and parental contributions, which we strive to keep as low as possible. If we were to use the services of outside providers to run any part of the award, the costs to each participant would increase significantly.
The gardens at Buckingham Palace were perfectly groomed and sculpted, making for beautiful surroundings in which to honour each of the young people that were present to receive the award for achieving something truly great. The celebrity guest that spoke to the group of award recipients that I was with was Naga Munchetty, a journalist with the BBC. She recounted for the group the story of her “big break” that set her on her current path. The very clear message was she planned, worked hard and made it happen for herself and she encouraged the young people that they were capable of shaping the future for themselves. HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex spent about five minutes speaking with the group. He was particularly interested in hearing the stories of the young people who had done something a bit unusual in the process of completing the Award. It was a good reminder that we should all strive to have a point of difference that sets us apart from the crowd. It is worth noting that the Earl of Wessex was proudly displaying his own Gold Award on the lapel of his suit jacket.
It was a real pleasure to witness former students Oliver Way and Amitoj Heer being presented with their certificates. They and their families are quite rightly very proud of what they have achieved. It was lovely to hear them both recount stories of the tough times and the laughs that they had on their four-day Gold expedition to North Wales that was so ably led by Mr Podbury. They noted it was a very tough four days, but a time that they gained a lot from and did enjoy immensely. Now that they have both nearly completed their first year of tertiary education successfully, they are able to identify the value of everything they did and learned from participating in the award.
J Roughton - DofE Leader