Harrogate students strike gold in Duke of Edinburgh Awards despite pandemic

Three Harrogate sixth formers have been presented with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) Gold Certificates of Achievement for completing three sections of the award during the pandemic.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:28 pm
Ashville College's Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award pupils start out on the Stainburn Forest to Blubberhouses part of their expedition.

Whilst the majority of the awards programme was mothballed due to coronavirus restrictions, Ashville College students Charlotte Parris, Becky Mitchell and Katie Cooper managed to finish the volunteering, skills and physical sections – which earned them the temporary accolade and took them a step closer to their ultimate Gold Award goal.

Additionally, the College has been thanked by DofE for the volunteering efforts of its Bronze Award pupils. Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, the pupils spent 299 hours volunteering – with an estimated social value of £1360.45.

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Over the last few weeks, the College has fully revived its DofE programme, with five Upper Sixth pupils undertaking a four-day expedition in the Yorkshire Dales.

This began with a practice trek, which saw the group walking from Stainburn Forest to Blubberhouses, Blubberhouses to Pateley Bridge, and finally Pateley Bridge to Fountains Abbey.

This was followed up by four days of walking and three nights camping in Hardraw, near Hawes, where in addition to great walking and teamwork, the Ashville pupils survived midges, blisters and an inquisitive fox.

The Gold expedition was preceded by a 30-strong group of Year 11 Bronze Award participants completing an intensive week-long schedule of activities.

This started with a training day in the College’s Soothill Hall, which covered a range of topics, from DofE rules and emergency procedures to first aid, including CPR, and navigation theory.

They also produced route cards for a practice expedition, which the six individual groups used to navigate their way from Almscliffe Crag back to the College campus on foot, carrying day packs, stoves and tents. On their return, they erected tents and learnt how to cook in the open air.

On the Thursday and Friday, they carried out their assessed expedition near Lofthouse in Nidderdale.

As well as navigating the route effectively, they needed to cook a meal independently. The two-day expedition is just one section of the DofE Bronze Award, which takes at least six months to complete.

Participants need to spend at least one hour per week on each of the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections, for three months, before choosing one of the sections to which to dedicate their time over a further three months.

David Wilson, DofE Manager, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh Awards are a rite of passage in upper Senior School and Sixth Form, which over the last five years alone has seen 100 pupils achieving their Bronze or Gold Award.

“For Charlotte, Becky and Katie to be awarded with these DofE Certificates is a fantastic achievement, and takes them three steps closer to the full Gold Award. I’d also like to praise the volunteering efforts of our Bronze Award pupils too.

“The pandemic has made it a great deal harder for the students to fulfil each section of the Award. I have been hugely impressed by their inventiveness, where many have regularly video-called isolated elderly relatives or walked dogs for their neighbours for the Volunteering section.

“We look forward to further activities with a group of 48 Year 10 pupils, who are also preparing for their Bronze Award."

For more information about Ashville College, please visit www.ashville.co.uk or call 01423 566358.