Pupils from St Benedict's school in Ealing, west London, have achieved a record number of 192 Duke of Edinburgh's Awards this year! An Award Presentation evening was held at the school, attended by the Mayor of Ealing Councillor Tejinder Singh Dhami, to mark this fantastic achievement.
Pupils from Year 9 to the Sixth Form have completed Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. These consist of progressively challenging expeditions - Gold takes them to Snowdonia - taking young people out of their comfort zone and requiring them to read a map, trek in the hills with heavy backpacks and camp out over several nights. They also have to develop skills and personal interests, such as music and sport, and do some voluntary work as part of the scheme.
At the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Presentation Evening, St Benedict's Headmaster, Andrew Johnson, said: "I am delighted that more and more of our pupils are undertaking and completing Duke of Edinburgh's awards, which provide excellent opportunities for developing independence, self-reliance, resilience and team-work, as well as encouraging pupils to develop their talents and be of service to others."
The Head of Integrated Youth Service of Ealing, Ian Jenkins, praised St Benedict's for its success in gaining so many awards, and spoke about the resilience required to complete an expedition - a vital quality which would "stand them all in good stead in the future." The Duke of Edinburgh Manager of Ealing, Ms Linda Brown, also attended the ceremony.
Two Gold Award holders - Phoebe Daly-Jones and Cerys Edwards (Year 13) - told the audience about their D of E Gold experience; each said that the residential, voluntary work element of the award had made them more confident when meeting and working with new people. Valentina Elner-Kupcha (Year 12) talked about her Silver award expedition, describing trials and tribulations such as walking through a field of bulls!
Musical entertainment was provided by pupils who had developed their musical talent as part of the awards' Skills component: Alex Dupuy (Year 13) played a piano improvisation inspired by Debussy and there was a jazz performance from Gregor Brindle, Joshua Macdonald and Jem Mawer (all in year 10).
The Mayor of Ealing then presented award certificates and congratulated everyone on their success, praising the scheme for its wide-ranging challenges. Later this year, the Gold award holders will go to Buckingham Palace to formally receive their awards from HRH Prince Edward.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award consists of:
• Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
• Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
• Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
• Expedition: planning, training for, and completion of an adventurous 2, 3, and 4 day trek in increasingly challenging terrain - from the Chiltern Hills (Bronze) to Snowdonia (Gold).
• At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home for five days, doing a shared activity.
D of E is highly regarded by universities and employers, who recognise the level of personal development the awards represent. Gold is a particularly impressive achievement, and these awards are formally presented at Buckingham Palace or St James' Palace, often by HRH Prince Edward.
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