Every young person who achieves their Gold Award is invited to attend a celebration event at one of the Royal Palaces. This year we were delighted to receive invitations to attend the event at Buckingham Palace, where hundreds of young people who had completed their Gold Award over the last few years were congratulated by HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, in the palace gardens. We were especially pleased to celebrate this achievement by one of Friary School’s former students, James Mackenzie.

Amongst the military bands, refreshment tent and photo opportunity locations, there were several other speakers addressing and inspiring the young people who came from all parts of England and Wales. These celebrities included adventurer Charley Boorman, motorcycling companion of Ewan McGregor in several “Long Way” series, Jill Scott, former Manchester City and England football midfielder and holder of the MBE for services to women’s football, and John Simpson, English foreign correspondent and world affairs editor of BBC News.

The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award represents a long-term commitment, developing a physical skill such as football or cycling and another life skill for between six months and a year, and a regular volunteering project each week over the course of a year. In addition to this, students have to attend a residential week of their own choice with young people from other schools and areas, and also complete a five-day expedition in wild country with four nights camping and often including a wild camp.

Angie Brough and Judith Williamson, our Duke of Edinburgh Award Co-Ordinators who attended the event, said: “We are very encouraged by the participation of many of our students in the different levels of the Duke of Edinburgh award, and are proud of their weekly commitment to their activities which they do to complete each section. This year we have our first group of Gold Award students for some time and we look forward to seeing them at a Buckingham Palace award celebration in the future!”