THEY’VE trekked the globe, been on missions to far-flung destinations like Africa and China, learnt how to scale great heights and survive in the wilderness.
And Wigan Borough’s young Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award champions were rewarded for their efforts when they received their certificates at a record-breaking awards’ ceremony.
Wigan’s DW Stadium was the venue for a packed presentation evening, which saw more young people than ever before receive the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. This year a total of 318 young people, all aged between 14 and 23, were honoured for staying the course and receiving one of the DofE awards. Of these, 217 young people picked up their Bronze award, 61 achieved their Silver, whilst 40 young people achieved the Gold standard.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a national programme of adventurous, practical and cultural activities run at a bronze, silver or gold level to help young people learn new skills or gain recognition for activities they are already involved in.
The awards are co-ordinated across the borough by Wigan Council’s Voice and Engagement Service. They are supported by several local organisations including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who provide free venues for the Borough’s three Open Award Centres.
As part of the evening’s events, nine young people also received certificates for completing 12 weeks training as apprentice firefighters under the expert supervision of Wigan Fire Station’s Manager Geoff Thornley.
Sue Astbury, who is Head of Early Intervention and Prevention, at Wigan Council said: “It’s fantastic that despite the economic downturn, more young people than ever have participated in these awards. It is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work, determination and perseverance of all the young people who have completed awards and the staff who have supported them.”
Gold award winner Luke Sheppard, 18, from Leigh, said: “I first became interested in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through my school, Golborne High. The three years I have been involved with it have been really good. We have all learnt so much and the skills we have developed as part of the project such as team-building and leadership, will definitely help me in the future at university and in my career.”
Chef Andrew Hughes, 20, from Atherton, who also picked up his Gold award added: “The confidence I have gained working for the award is amazing. We have all really grown as people and we’ve made lots of new friends as part of our expedition teams. At first I was unsure about going for the award but I am really glad I did.”
For Gold winner Ruth Ginty,19, from Astley, added: “There are so many memories I will keep with me, it’s been a fantastic experience. The expedition is a real highlight but the chance to try a range of new activities and skills and find out more about what is happening in our local community have been really useful as well. If anyone is considering the DofE award my advice is simple – Go For It!”
The celebration event hosted by Gold Award achievers Rachael Duggan and Charlotte Turner saw not only the young people receive their awards, the full-house of parents, carers and friends at the presentation were also treated to some top-class entertainment from the young award winners. This included music from talented singer/songwriter Scarlett Thomas, balletic grace from dancer Emma Chang and music from gifted flautist Emma Lloyd.
Presenting the Gold winners with their award on the night was Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Coun Sue Loudon.
She said: “The young people receiving awards tonight have faced adversity and challenges. They have each given something back to their local communities by volunteering their time in hospices, charities and churches but have also developed themselves as citizens of the world, taking part in projects in countries including Uganda, China, and America. They have developed new skills, such as becoming an expert knitter or helping run a canal camp. Sometimes as youngsters we’re taught how to deal with failure rather than success, so it’s important that we take time to celebrate young people’s successes to encourage them to continue to succeed.”
For more information on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards in Wigan, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01942 769813.