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Alumni speak at the Duke of Edinburgh Award Evening

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Evening was held for the second time at Bolton School, cementing its place as an annual event in the School calendar. The Girls’ Division Great Hall was filled with sunshine as parents and family members were welcomed by pupils who had completed Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. Each team ran a stand about their walking, sea kayaking, canoeing or biking expedition to give a taste of their experience.

Boys’ Division Headmaster Philip Britton opened the ceremony with a few words about the tradition of Bolton School pupils undertaking Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Pupils typically work towards the Bronze Award in Years 9 and 10, the Silver Award in Year 11, and the Gold Award during Sixth Form. Last year, the School was named the largest independent school provider of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in the North-West and in the top ten schools in the whole of the North.

Mr Britton handed over to Old Boy Toryn Dalton, who left in 2010 following his Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition. He returned for the awards ceremony to give his perspective on the Awards. He spoke not only about the incredible memories they gave him, but also how they have helped him in life.

He went into detail about the activities he undertook to complete his Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, from learning First Aid to playing rugby for School, as well as his expeditions walking, canoeing, and sailing on Tenacity of Bolton. During his Silver expedition, the group faced adversity when one member injured his hand and the team had to decide how to continue with an odd number of canoeists. Making the tough decisions to deal with this problem and working as a team to overcome it helped prepare him for the journey through university and into life, as did similar experiences on his Bronze and Gold expeditions.

Toryn’s closing message was that the Duke of Edinburgh Awards are a great opportunity to learn transferrable skills. He said, “The experiences I gained from my expeditions are some I’ll never forget. There are few places where you would get such an unrivalled opportunity. Take advantage of it.”

Loanna Deverdie, Duke of Edinburgh Operations Officer, also said a few words: “You have all been on a special journey, and it has made you a special kind of person. It’s given you an opportunity to do something incredible and you have learned a special set of skills. I guarantee you that you will use them. In addition, you’ve made lasting memories. Well done.”

The pupils who achieved Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards this year then took to the stage to receive their awards from Loanna, to hearty congratulations from the audience.

Several pupils shared their personal Duke of Edinburgh Award experiences during the ceremony. Max Maloney in Year 11, Olivia Gould and Andrew Lee in Year 12, and Sarah Ibberson and Daniel Anderson in Year 13 spoke about the skills and physical activities they developed, the volunteering they completed, and their varied expeditions. The audience also heard a speech from Leena Ahmed in Year 11, read on her behalf by her sister Sanaa from Year 10. From collecting litter at a local rugby club to helping at a youth group for children with disabilities, they all agreed that volunteering was one of the most rewarding aspects of the Awards. They also talked about how their physical and skill sections – whether they chose rock climbing or ballroom dancing, picking up a musical instrument or trying out debating – promoted improvement or encouraged them to try something new. These same activities simultaneously helped pupils to gain confidence, resilience, and other transferrable skills.

Old Girl Laura Moss addressed the audience about the importance of adventure. She began by saying, “I might not be the most obvious choice to come and talk at an event like this, because I’m a solicitor. However, I have been an explorer – or at least, that’s what my nieces call me! I’m going to share with you three ‘lessons from the road’ that I think sum up what outdoor activities can do for you. These are: why writing an essay is a bit like cycling around the world; most people are good people; and anything is possible.”

She talked about her trip around the world, which saw her cycle 13,000 miles through 29 different countries. She described how the trip reinforced the idea that bad things always come to an end, and remembering this helps her in daily life. She also spoke about the kindness of strangers: of the 500 nights of her trip, around a third were spent in the homes of locals, from families in tiny homes in the poorest parts of India to a millionaire in Texas. She linked this to her own Duke of Edinburgh experience, where she was grouped with girls she wouldn’t necessarily have spoken to otherwise, but still found to be “good people”. Finally she talked about how the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Patterdale opened her eyes to the fact that anything is possible.

Girls’ Division Headmistress Sue Hincks gave a closing address about the future of outdoor learning at Bolton School. She further offered the audience the chance to take part themselves in the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge. Inspired by the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and open to anyone, this challenges participants to take on a challenge of some kind, whether it be an adventure or a personal or skill challenge.

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Evening was a wonderful opportunity for pupils to share the amazing things they had done as part of achieving their Awards. The ceremony was a fitting celebration of the achievements of the pupils involved.

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Loanne Deverdie, Toryn Dalton, Gold Award recipients Emma Hailwood and Ethan Watson, and Laura Moss

Loanne Deverdie, Toryn Dalton, Gold Award recipients Emma Hailwood and Ethan Watson, and Laura Moss

Old Boy Toryn Dalton talked about his own Duke of Edinburgh experiences

Old Boy Toryn Dalton talked about his own Duke of Edinburgh experiences

The pupils were presented with their Gold, Silver and Bronze level awards during the ceremony

The pupils were presented with their Gold, Silver and Bronze level awards during the ceremony