Hannah Hook at Buckingham Palace to collect her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award
The Duke of Edinburgh Awards overall took me five years to complete, which I did at Vandyke Upper School, and this May I was one of the privileged few to collect my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at Buckingham Palace.
There was a lot of security to go through before we were allowed to look around the lovely gardens, there were even bands playing music to listen to, before joining my group for photos and the certificate presentations.
We had an inspirational talk from Emma Wiggs MBE (Paralympic gold medal winner and six time World Champion paracanoeist). This was great for me as I had learned how to kayak as part of my DofE experience. Emma encouraged us to seize opportunities, push ourselves outside our comfort zone, work hard, be disciplined and make good decisions to maximise what we have in order to be successful. She said that setting goals and our attitude is important to get the most out of life, we can decide to have the right attitude at the start of each day, and believe that we will do everything we possibly can to give ourselves the best chances of achieving our goals. It’s also vital to have support and make sure that we include those around us on our journey.
After this we met HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex who chatted with us about our DofE experiences. Throughout my time on DofE, amongst other things, I have learned to kayak with Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club (and won a number of races), volunteered at school and been a College Ambassador, done charity work with the National Citizen Service, learned to drive and completed several expeditions. Most memorable was probably climbing Snowdon in 30 degree heat carrying full kit and with a broken wrist!
I’m really grateful to Mrs Green and Miss Gibbs who have encouraged me so much on my journey, without their support I wouldn’t have made it. The DofE scheme has encouraged me to take up a career in outdoor adventure and I am now working in the industry as a watersports instructor. One of the quotes at the DofE presentation was “If it was easy, everybody would do it”. Completing the DofE is hard, but it’s the hard that makes it great.
Hannah Hook, Ex Vandyke Student