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The Duke of Edinburgh scheme remains the most popular extra-curricular activity at The Blue Coat School, with over 300 students currently enrolled on the programme. To enable our students to further develop and enhance the skills acquired during the successful completion of their Bronze and Silver awards, Year 12 students were provided with an exciting new opportunity to participate on the final and most prestigious stage of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme.

50 students accepted the scheme’s challenge, to complete the five sections associated with the internationally renowned Gold Award.

Travelling to one of the country’s most idyllic and beautiful locations to complete one of the most demanding aspects of the award, student Ellie shares her experiences of her Gold Award expedition, undertaken in the Lake District.

Recently, myself and 49 fellow students completed our Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition. We began near to Coniston in the Lake District, and over the course of 4 days we completed a scenic route around Lake Windermere, walking a total of around 80km. We could not have asked for better weather, nor could we have asked for a more beautiful setting; nature was definitely on our side!

Despite this, our expedition certainly was not easy. The walks we did were challenging, including many steep up and downhill sections and dense ferns through which we had to navigate. This meant that we all had to work as a team to support each other, and by the end of the weekend the camaraderie within the group was fantastic. Not only had we managed to complete the walks and camping, we also managed to have a great time.

It is a huge honour for all of us to be in the first year of Blue Coat students who were offered the opportunity to take part in the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. There was a great mix of original Blue Coat students and newcomers to the school, and this meant some of us had completed the Bronze and Silver Award, whilst some were newcomers to the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. We all helped each other, giving each other tips from past experience to lightening the mood.

Personally, I think the Duke of Edinburgh Award is a fantastic opportunity and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to take part. As you progress through Bronze, Silver and Gold, you find that you are capable of overcoming challenges that once seemed impossible as you gain more skills and determination. It is a great way to get involved with extracurricular activities in the volunteering, physical and skills sections, and the expedition really pushes you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Now, we are all well on our way to completing our Gold Award and being able to visit one of Britain’s beautiful palaces to receive our certificates. It is an experience none of us will forget, and we hope that students in the future will grab onto this amazing opportunity with both hands. It would not be possible without Miss Baker who was integral in organising the expedition, Jo Roberts from the Duke of Edinburgh North Office and countless volunteers who came along on our expedition, and we would like to give great thanks to you all.

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