Saint Aidan's News

The truth about D of E

Following a successful expedition and the completion of her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, Abi Hargreaves reflects on what she’s achieved over the last year in order to complete the coveted accolade of D of E Bronze Award.

Upon entering Year 10, students are given the chance to participate in and complete their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. In order to achieve the bronze award, participants are required to finish the four different sections: volunteering, skill, physical and expedition. To do so, they need determination and dedication as one of volunteering, skill or physical is attended regularly over six months while the others last three months.

The ‘Volunteering’ section

For volunteering, we were had to help in the community, whether at a charity shop, nature reserve or another place of our choosing. By volunteering our time on a regular basis for an extended period of time, we were able to see the benefits our work was making. This allowed us to help those who needed it rather then letting others do it for us. It also meant we met other people with similar interests to us and encouraged others to do the same.

For my volunteering, I worked at Beacon Fell Nature Reserve for five hours once a month for six months. By working for their conservation crew, I was able to see the improvements we made to the park on a regular basis and see how the park I had visited since I was a child was run from behind the scenes.

The ‘Skill’ section

Similarly, completing the skill section inspired students to try something new and develop their attributes. Skills varied from person to person depending on previous interests and how long the student was going to spend on this part of the award. Personally, I learnt British Sign Language while others focused on in activities such as cake decorating or football coaching. These skills could be done in school or independently depending on which best suited the student.

I completed an online British Sign Language course for my skill so that I have a competent understanding of sign language in the UK and could see how people struggle everyday with hearing loss.

The ‘Physical’ section

In order to finish the third section, we had to take part in a physically testing sport. While others decided to attend school sports clubs including netball and handball, some chose to try a new sport, therefore expanding their horizons. The physical sport helped prepare us for the expedition by making us fitter. With this, the expedition was made easier. Many people took part in team sports therefore improving communication and cohesion between other students within our year, whether part of DofE or not.

For my third section, I trained for a triathlon for six months. This has allowed me to become fitter and I am aiming to finish this section by completing the Castle Howard Triathlon at the end of this school term.

The ‘Expedition’ section

The final section was split into three parts; the training day, the practice expedition and the final expedition. The training day was an educational day at school where all teams learnt to use the equipment we would need and plan our expedition. In the practice expedition, we were taught vital map skills with instructors over two days and camped outside. This allowed us to be fully prepared for the actual task.

About a month later, we all departed on our final assessed expedition. We were tasked to carry all our essentials in a backpack and work together in groups to navigate to a campsite, sleep in tents for a night and then pack up and find our way to a pick up point.

Along the way, one group made a video while another investigated the psychology of DofE. The expedition was tiring but memorable through the blood, sweat and tears.

Upon reflection, the entire experience was unforgettable. I believe I speak for everyone involved when expressing our gratitude to Mr Eccles, Mr Corbridge and all the other staff members aiding and supporting us with enthusiasm throughout the trying experience.

Three more students give their take on the experience

By Luke Grundy

For the volunteering area of the Duke of Edinburgh, I chose to go down to the old Fleetwood train track to ‘do it up’. I chose to go to the train track as I enjoy working the outdoors.

We had a lot of work to do. There was a lot of brambles to remove and lots of trees to chop down. Whilst I was there I learnt many skills such as how to use some of the tools effectively. We used a large variety of tools such as mattocks, spades, pickaxes, racks and a lot more. We faced many challenges when working there such as pulling out trees and roots.

Another problem we faced was environmentalists who said we couldn’t cut down trees at a certain time of the year as there were birds in there. This put us behind by quite a bit as we were ready to cut them.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of doing work down there and I am going to carry on with it although my Duke of Edinburgh is over. I decided to carry on as the people are very nice and it is fun to learn all the new things.

By Olivia Poole

For my Duke Of Edinburgh skill, I tried something completely new and began rock climbing. This was a push out of my comfort zone and looking back on it now, it was an important experience that will help guide me in the future for safety and team skills.

I began rock climbing with my friend Imogen with no experience and the first lesson was particularly daunting. There was so much to process such as knots, safety demonstrations, climbing calls as well as all the climbing techniques. It took a while for us to pluck up the courage to actually climb onto the wall but eventually we got used to the different height levels and it became almost natural for us.

We were each given a booklet of all the different requirements that we needed to pass in order to complete level one and go on to level two. The last requirement was to jump off the top of the wall and have your belayer catch you. It was by far the most nerve-racking experience of the entire course but it is also one of my most favourite memories as it showed me that I could overcome my fears.

By James Baxter

For my Duke of Edinburgh's skill section, I chose air rifle shooting. I chose this as it is something I am passionate about.

I had to go every week for 3 months. This wasn't the easiest as I had to buy an air rifle and all of the other accessories (scope, pellets and a rest). This was expensive!I went to Madair Rifle Range in Pilling which is a brilliant facility and it allowed me to have fun whilst completing this section of the D of E. They also helped me to try out new rifles which are more powerful, accurate and very high tech.

They also covered all aspects of rifle care, cleaning and how different pellets affect the rifle, whilst also emphasising safety.

I would like to continue this hobby as I already have the equipment needed.

The DofE has taught me the importance to stick at something to get better which I had to do to improve.