Sidcotian Youren Yu, now studying Maths at Oxford, achieved the impressive feat of completing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award whilst still at Sidcot. Everyone who achieves Gold, even up to the age limit of 25, is invited to London to receive their certificate, and so it was with great delight that I accepted Youren’s invitation to accompany him to St James’s Palace. The palace is a sumptuous royal residence, full of glorious paintings, historical tapestries, entire rooms decorated with ancient weapons and impressively rich carpets, with a particularly impressive throne room. It is in the heart of London and where the Queen meets visiting heads of state.
Prince Edward has now taken over from his father as the head of Duke of Edinburgh Award and he was full of enthusiasm and knowledge of how the scheme works and praise for those who have achieved the highest honour, chatting with each group of students, and their parents or guests. There were other guest speakers too, and a formal presentation of certificates to finish.
It is not often, as a teacher, that one gets within a few centimetres of royalty, but this was certainly a memorable day out for Youren and for me. Anyone who is working their way through the Award certainly has something to aim for at the end, and although the Prince did tease those who had skipped Silver and gone straight to Gold from Bronze, this was a day very much for the students and he was full of praise and admiration for their achievements.