At the ceremony in the Great Hall, Winchester, recipients were presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Guest of Honour, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson, who is also the President of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Hampshire.
The Lord-Lieutenant said: “These young people have demonstrated a huge amount of commitment and determination to gain this very prestigious award, and they can be very proud of their achievement. I know they will all have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge too. As there is a real need for leaders to train the next generation of young participants, I would urge them to continue their good work and enjoyment by offering their time and skills as volunteers for the DofE scheme.”
Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council and a Forum Vice President, who attended the event, said: “I congratulate the young people on their Gold Awards - it is a great achievement of which they can all be very proud. The Duke of Edinburgh Award offers young people wonderful opportunities to learn new skills, meet others and learn from experiences that will stand them in good stead in life.”
Camping and canoeing expeditions, overseas adventures, volunteering and crewing tall ships were just some of the challenges undertaken by the young people as they worked towards gaining their awards.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a nationwide scheme, requiring participants to spend time volunteering, learning or improving a skill, taking part in a physical activity, and undertaking an expedition with a group of friends. While undertaking the Gold Award, a young person will typically give more than 50 hours of volunteering, spend a total of eighteen months learning skills and physical activities, and undertake a four-day expedition in terrain classified as ‘wild country’. These expeditions have taken them to Snowdonia, the Lake District, and Scotland, camping overnight, carrying all their kit, and being fully self-sufficient.
Those going for Gold are also required to spend at least five days away from home on a challenge with a group of people not previously known to them. The young people attending the awards event had undertaken everything from helping disadvantaged and disabled children at residential camps, to undertaking their National Citizen Service, or working with local communities in Tanzania, Hawaii, India, Canada and Nepal.
Music at the celebration was provided by clarinet-player Jess Upfold, 15, from Romsey. Jess is currently doing her bronze DofE award.
Hampshire DofE Youth Forum members Maddy Crews, 16, from Havant, and Ryan Niezgoda, 17, from Basingstoke who also received his Gold certificate, read out the details of each young person’s Gold achievements. Other members of the Hampshire DofE Youth Forum helped guide VIP guests, and assisted the Lord-Lieutenant.
Among the 150 supporters, honouring the young people’s achievements, were civic leaders from across the county, lead by the Mayor of Winchester, together with representatives from voluntary organisations, and Mary Montagu-Scott, High Sheriff of Hampshire, as well as Forum Vice Presidents Ian Greig, Vice Admiral Mike Gretton, Giles Curtis, and Brigadier Ray Bradbury.
“DofE represents a major challenge, and gaining the Gold Award is a real achievement,” said Martin King, the Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Hampshire Forum. “I hope to see many more young people following in their footsteps in the years to come.”