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GOLD AWARD PRESENTATION AT ST.JAMES’S PALACE LONDON

A FANTASTIC DAY WITH STUDENTS RECEIVING WELL-DESERVED RECOGNITION

There are around 300, 000 young people nationally taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. In 2014, 108,288 achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award and since the Award began in 1956, over 2.3 million people have achieved Awards.

Not only does D of E develop numerous new skills, levels of personal fitness, provides candidates with a wealth of new experiences but it can also improve chances of employment. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has been chosen by UK HR professionals in a CIPD survey (April 2015) as the most recognised programme a candidate can reference during the recruitment process to demonstrate their volunteering experience. Over a quarter of UK companies look for a D of E Award in applications when they recruit, above other recognition programmes. Evidence of volunteering is seen as a valuable asset for young people entering the workplace. In the same survey, 67% of UK companies surveyed believed entry-level candidates with voluntary experience have more employability skills to offer than those who don’t.

On Wednesday 25th March I had the privilege of attending the Gold Award Presentation at St James’s Palace in London. A large number of our former and current students, having successfully completed their Gold Award, were invited to attend the Palace to receive their certificate from Prince Philip himself. My role that day was as a ‘Marshal’, essentially to be a representative from the D of E centre and provide a very minor role in supervision and the running of events. These students had successfully completed each of the five sections which make up the Gold Award:

  • 12 months of Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or to the community.
  • 12 or 6 months of Physical: improving an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
  • 12 or 6 months of Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
  • Planning, training for and completing a 4 day, 3 night expedition for the Expedition section.
  • Undertaking a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights for the Residential section.
     
Originally built by Henry VIII, St James’s Palace is the senior Palace of the Sovereign, with a long history as a Royal residence. We all gathered late afternoon, along with parents and other students from other centres in the North of England, in The Queen Ann state room. We were all welcomed by Paul Griffiths (North West Operations Manager for D of E) then introduced to the guest who would later present the certificates – Matt Johnson, TV presenter. After a quick Q and A session with Matt, which helped put everyone at ease, we were arranged into semi-circular groups, ready to meet His Royal Highness. The knock on the door eventually came and Prince Philip entered the state room.

We were the first group to be introduced to HRH and despite being 94; he certainly has a firm handshake! I was impressed with the time the Prince spent talking to both the students and parents. He asked them about what they had done for their volunteering sections and their expeditions. On hearing that our students canoe rather than walk for their expedition, he joked that while others were getting blisters, they were having a pleasant sail down the river! He spoke to the parents, sat behind, as to whether any of them had taken part in the Award – potentially our students could now be the third generation of the Award. The Prince continued around the room, making everyone feel relaxed as well as laugh, as he spoke to many more personally.

Matt Johnson officially presented the certificates to all of the students before the official photographs were taken. Overall it was a fantastic day with the students receiving the well-deserved recognition for all of their achievements. It was nice to see so many smiles and the sense of pride was tangible.

Congratulations to:
Richard Adams, Jonathan Bennett, Ben Bridge, Samantha Carine, David Christian, Christopher Fairhurst, Tom Graves, Ben Guile, Hannah Howard, Danny Jones, Holly Kilshaw, Michael Lea, Sarah Liley, Craig McKee, Fergus Powell, Bradley Rigby, Alasdair Robertson, Jack Rothwell, Alexandra Webster, William Wharton and Nia Williams.

Mr Halewood
Bronze D of E Leader