A Gold Invitation By Mrs Allison Barnes
It was a proud moment last Monday when I stood in Buckingham Palace Gardens listening to five ex-pupils reminiscing and sharing stories about their Gold Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. They all agreed that, looking back, it was physically demanding and there were lots of ‘I can’t do this – it’s too hard!’ moments, but overall they remembered their expeditions as being full of laughter and all had great fun because they were sharing the experience with their friends.
The weather forecast for Monday’s gold invitation was for a sunny 21 degrees with a scattering of occasional cloud – I checked every day on the run up to the event to see whether I needed a coat – but, in true Duke of Edinburgh fashion, one lone black cloud settled above the Palace Gardens and gave us a good soaking for ten minutes – it just reminded us of how easily the weather can change in the middle of a 20K walk in the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District, only this time none of us were dressed appropriately for that particular bit of weather.
The Gold Award Celebration at the Palace was hosted by His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex and Forfar (Prince Edward) and many other well known Olympians, Celebrities, Adventurers and inspirational speakers were there to share their own stories regarding Careers, Life Goals and Extreme Physical Endurance Challenges that they have faced and overcome.
2,750 Gold Award achievers from across the UK had been invited to this event along with regional DofE Leaders and Volunteers. It was the first time since 2019 that this event had taken place due to COVID and everyone enjoyed their day sipping tea and eating a cup cake made by the Palace Kitchens. Tom, Laila, Hattie, Harry and Ehsaan all agreed that the experience of being there was well worth carrying heavy rucksacks filled with enough clothing and food for four days of walking along with tents, cooking trangias and utensils, a sleeping bag and roll mat, head light/torch and anything else that you can fit in to make those four days slightly more bearable.