On Thursday 17th May, some of the girls travelled to London for a very special occasion - the Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Jess, Sophie and Thea (all Year 13) attended, along with Emily, Felicity, Phoebe and Carina (2017 Leavers) to be presented with their Gold DofE awards.

"The day began with a long queue around the palace walls, and some thorough identity checks before entering the grounds. We walked in and were able to enjoy the beautiful gardens before arriving in front of the palace to find our group number.

The groups were carefully allocated, with similar schools and areas near to our school, such as John Bentley and Malmesbury. First, we had an introduction from a representative from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, and she talked about how valuable DofE is to people, and how the volunteering and work done can positively affect people. Interestingly, she also mentioned the statistics for the numbers of people who entered into doing Gold, and the number of people who actually completed it. Between April 2017 and March 2018, 29,200 people started their Gold award, and only 11,340 people completed it. This really highlighted the commitment that people need to show to be able to finish Gold, making us all feel very proud.

After her talk, we were fortunate enough to meet and speak to Sophie, Countess of Wessex. She asked us all what we had done for our different sections, which are skills, practical, volunteering and residential. Many people had been away for their residential. Jess and I went on a Spanish language course to help with our upcoming Spanish A Level, and Sophie went on a sailing course in South Cornwall. She made us feel extremely accomplished, and further reminded us how worthwhile Gold was to do.

Each group had a ‘celebrity’ or guest of honour who would be giving out the certificates. Our group’s celebrity was Mary Berry. After hearing the Countess of Wessex speak, we then listened to Mary, who told us about her childhood and career, and what was important to her in life. She then handed each one of us our certificates individually and spoke to us and answered questions.

It was a beautiful day, and all of us agreed it made the 120km walk worth it!"

Thea (Year 13)