When it comes to award ceremonies, venues don’t come much grander than the Queen’s back garden.
That’s where a group of current and former students of Kesteven and Sleaford High School (KSHS), in Jermyn Street, Sleaford, gathered recently to receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award certificates.
There (in Buckingham Palace Gardens, to give the venue its official name), they found themselves in the presence of the Queen’s son Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, and their niece, Princess Eugenie of York.
The DofE Award is hailed as ‘the world’s leading youth achievement award’.
It is split into three levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold – with the main differences between them being the minimum length of time they take to complete, how challenging they are, and the age at which you can start them.
Gold, as you would expect, asks the most of participants, requiring, for example, 12 months’ volunteering compared to six months for Silver and three for Bronze.
The Gold DofE Award winners from KSHS (either as current or former students) present on the day were: Anna Hardy, Sydney Mawer, Holly Parkinson, and Emma Stevens.
Also in attendance on the day was Jo Smith, head of KSHS, Nick Law, head of Carre’s Grammar School and executive head of The Robert Carre Trust which encompasses both schools, and Melita Walker, DofE co-ordinator.
Mrs Walker said: “The sun shone, the band played and these young people beamed as they received their certificates, which are representative of the effort, commitment and determination shown by each of them in pursuing and achieving such a respected and prestigious award. It was a special day in a very special place for each of them.”
Due to exam commitments, fellow KSHS Gold DofE award winners Megan Hackett and Stephanie Wilkinson were not able to attend.
The same was also true of Joshua Burton, of Carre’s Grammar School, in Northgate.
This trio, however, will be invited again – most likely to St James’ Palace – to receive their awards in similar style.
Mrs Walker added: “It was a great pleasure for us as staff to attend and witness this event. As the DofE co-ordinator I have seen these young people develop over time, culminating in this fantastic achievement.
“For the heads of school, it was a wonderful insight into what superb opportunities being named Duke of Edinburgh License-holders for the schools gives to their students.”
The event also saw Mrs Walker receive a framed certificate celebrating 12 years of service as a DofE co-ordinator.
She said: “I have supported students through their DofE Award at all levels and never tire of seeing their success. Every student and experience is different and it is a privilege to see them complete. Many find the experience challenging but it can change them and their outlook. These students are our volunteers and adults of the future.
“My thanks to all the volunteers who give their time to support the Robert Carre Trust in delivering this fantastic award.”