An invitation to Buckingham Palace

Achieving the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award is high up on anyone’s list of lifetime achievements and four Downe House Alumnae and one Upper Sixth form girl were thrilled to be awarded their DofE Gold Awards at Buckingham Palace on 13 May 2019. The girls were presented to HRH The Duke of Gloucester and received their Gold Award certificates in the presence of HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Countess of Wessex.

11 June 2019

Downe House alumnae, Clara Silcock, Ilaria Bevan, Jennifer Darko, Alexandra O’Kane and Emily in the Upper Sixth were presented to HRH The Duke of Gloucester and received their Gold Award certificates in the presence of HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Countess of Wessex. The five girls have successfully completed all five sections which include Volunteering, Physical, Skills, Expedition and Residential. Each of the girls has followed an individual and unique journey in terms of how they have met the requirements of each section – for instance, Jennifer completed a five day residential yoga course for the Residential section whilst Emily did a cookery course at the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School with the aim of being able to cook her own meals at university. Expeditions have included treks across the Berkshire and Wiltshire countryside as well as further afield on Dartmoor and in the Brecon Beacons.

Upper Sixth Form girl, Emily describes her day at the Palace,

“Going to Buckingham Palace for the presentation of my DofE Gold Award certificate was a really lovely day and a great experience for me and we saw many famous faces at the event.

I really enjoyed doing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, despite the challenges it presented. It brought me many new experiences and opportunities, including going to Wales for the first time. I found the Volunteering section very rewarding in terms of giving back to the community. I was involved in a number of volunteering ventures including the Charlie Heritage Foundation which supports children with a neurological motor impairment, helping at Kingsurf School and Hindleap Warren, a residential centre which inspires young people through outdoor learning. For the Skills Section, I learned to drive and for the Physical Section, I undertook personal fitness training and worked hard on my lacrosse skills.

The most memorable moments of the experience were both the practice and final expeditions, and the contrast between them! Whilst the practice on Dartmoor was marked by continuous rain and a temperature which never reached double figures, we enjoyed the final expedition in uninterrupted sunshine allowing us to really appreciate the scenery of the Brecon Beacons. The expeditions taught me the value of perseverance and how rewarding it can be when you complete a challenge.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award inspires and challenges young people across the UK and is well regarded by both universities and employers. At Downe House, the Award scheme is thriving and currently there are 170 girls doing the Bronze Award and 31 girls in the Sixth Form who are working towards their Gold Award.

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