Olivia’s Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award

Congratulations to Olivia, Year 13, who is the first Helsby High student since our relaunch after the pandemic to complete the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, after completing her final expedition this term! Our other resilient Year 13 DofE Gold students are in the final stages of their award, and we can’t wait to celebrate their completion very soon too! We look forward to hearing all about their visits to Buckingham Palace when they are presented with their richly deserved awards!

We are delighted to share an empowering article, written by Olivia, outlining her experience completing the DofE Gold award. A big thank you to Olivia for sharing this with us, we are so proud of you!

By Olivia L, Year 13:

Over the course of my time at Sixth Form Helsby, I have taken to the challenge of completing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. This has been challenging but so worthwhile. As I was a direct entry without doing Bronze or Silver, it pushed me even more. Over the past 18 months, I have been volunteering, learning and practicing a new skill, participating in sport, been on two expeditions and finally been on a 5 day residential. 

For my volunteering, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children so I decided to volunteer for 12 months within the Sunday school at Chester Cathedral, which was an invaluable experience because I was able to experience first-hand the inquisitiveness of children. I also worked 1-1 with a child (for six of these months and continue to do so) with additional needs which really helped me understand how to care for children with SEN and disabilities and support them to do different tasks. This helped me in particular because in the future I would like to work with children with special needs. For my Skill, I wanted to carry on and improve in a skill which I have been doing my whole life. Singing. As this was the task I was most confident on, I decided to have my 18 months with this. I sang with Chester Cathedral Choir and St Mary’s Handbridge choir. Additionally to this, during the time I completed my DofE, I successfully auditioned to be part of the National Youth Choir, where only the best 100 singers in the country are successful. In summer, I will be travelling to Ascot to sing with them. Additionally, I have also featured on the well – known BBC Songs of Praise several times. I found my sport more challenging; typically, I am not the sportiest of people so I had excellent support from Mrs Weaver in the PE department and was able to complete 6 months of gym work and table tennis with her. This allowed me to be more active and made me realise just how important exercise is, particularly around exam periods.

 The next event was the expeditions. In April of last year, the five of us set off on our first expedition to the peak district as a practice. We spent 2 nights and 3 days in some very cold conditions and I quickly learnt that it was going to be tough. Following on from this, In June we tackled the real expedition in Snowdonia, which was 3 nights and 4 days. We faced harsh weather conditions and tough climbs but as a team we stuck together to complete it. On this trip, I also made lifelong friends with other people completing their DofE from Lymm. They helped me particularly in the evenings as I was the only girl from Helsby to complete the final expedition; so rather than being in a tent on my own, they included me in their yoga, gossip and hot chocolates which made me feel more able to complete the expedition.

Finally, the last section was my Residential, which I think was my favourite part of the whole DofE experience. In August last year, I went to Ullswater in the Lake District to go on a five day residential with the Outward Bound Trust. This was one of the scariest but best experiences I’ve ever had. Outward Bound really encouraged me out of my comfort zone to do things I would have never dreamed of doing otherwise. I climbed up Helvellyn and GowBarrow and managed to tackle Striding Edge. I also went cliff jumping from approximately 4M up as well as gorge walking, canoeing, rowing and raft building as well as making friends from all across the UK who I’m still in contact with. Outward Bound pushed me to the best of my ability and it challenged and changed me as an individual. 

The DofE experience is one that will be with you for life. I would 100% encourage anyone to give it a go. It changes who you are. It pushes you. You come away with memories that are irreplaceable and so many recognise it as such an achievement. So if you are considering doing your Gold DofE award. It will challenge you. It will make you a better person. It will give you more resilience and teamwork. Go for it.