Monday, 3 March 2014

Off to meet the Duke of Edinburgh!

Something very exciting is happening this Wednesday for me!  It isn't design related but it is such a huge achievement that I just have to share it with you.  Last year I finished my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award after almost 6 years of working towards it I am so happy to announce I'm off to St James Palace to get my award from the Duke of Edinburgh!  a.k.a Prince Phillip (the Queen's husband!).

There are three levels of the award, Bronze, Silver and Gold, I finished my Silver back when I was 16 but the Gold award is by far the hardest to finish.

For each award you have to take part in expeditions where you go hiking and camping for 2-4 days depending on which level you are working towards.  You have to plan a route, including working out the compass bearings (don't ask me how to do these, the guys in the group thankfully handled them!), and carry everything you might need for the whole expedition, this means a super heavy bag on your back for days. 

The expedition is only one part of this though, and even then you have to go on a practice expedition before the actual one!

You also have to complete a skill, service and sport for these awards, so for this you do an hours worth of each a week for a certain amount of time.  for the Gold I did 6 months of a sport and 12 months of the service and skill.

The sport I did was kickboxing, which I ended up in more pain after one session than doing a four day hike.  For the service I helped at Girl Guides which I had been part of for 7 years already, and the skill was my drumming lessons.

So it was fairly easy to get that part of the award done as I did most of it already anyway.  The last part of the Gold award that sets it apart from the others is the residential trip.  Which the website describes as "Undertake a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights."  Basically go away from home for at least 4 nights, I went and helped kids with asthma for AsthmaUK which was a weeks trip to Edinburgh.  I got to see some wonderful places and pretty much play games and organise fun activities for a week.   I stayed at Fettes College, which is such an amazing place to stay!  I was a volunteer so my travel and accommodation were all included, for anyone looking to complete their Gold award that are still searching for a residential to do, I couldn't recommend this highly enough!

So you can see there is quite a lot that needs to be done to achieve this award, especially when your only 17 and having to motivate yourself to do all of these things.  It has taken me 6 years to finally finish it (mostly due to starting the sport while I was at University as you've got to be part of a group to get these things signed off).

I have so many funny memories from the expeditions, although I doubt they would seem quite so funny at the time when your feet are sore and blistered and your shoulders feel like they're about to drop off from the weight of your bag.  It's been 6 years since we did this expedition and since then we've all gone to different Universities and most of us are now in full time jobs around the country, but we still keep in contact and meet up whenever we have the chance.  I made some amazing friends from doing this and it definitely made us a lot closer.

The beginning of the 4 day expedition

The morning of the last day, only 10 km left! All looking a little worse for wear.

First group to finish so back to the youth hostel and hot showers!
Good thing you can't see closer because my face is unbelievably puffed up.

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