By Halle Preston, Year 10
Overall, the Duke of Edinburgh award has been a truly memorable experience. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been difficult at times, but the more time goes on, the less doubt in my mind that this opportunity will be one that I remember for the rest of my life. Every aching limb and sunburnt shoulder pales into insignificance when I look back at everything I’ve achieved. I’ve become more independent, become acquainted with new friends, been pushed to my physical limits, integrated well into new environments and worked efficiently as part of a team. But most of all, I’ve proved my own capabilities, and done things I never dreamt of doing. All in all, it’s been a life changing six months for me!
For my physical section, after much deliberation, I chose cycling. I’ve always loved cycling, with it being one of the only sports I’m capable of doing well, but in the past I’ve barely made any effort to do it. I went out on Sunday mornings, slightly groggy and unprepared, and return mud-splattered, sweat-soaked and much more fulfilled. Not only did I get my weekly dose of the open air and relish that familiar freedom I’d missed while cycling, but I got to improve my time each week, cutting about twenty minutes off my original time in total! Not only was it an achievement, but it was a pleasure to get back out there after so long. It reminded me of how much I always enjoyed those weekend bike rides with my dad.
Writing is a passion of mine, so naturally, after a little indecisiveness I chose creative writing for my skills section. Mrs Dolman was kind enough to proofread and track my progress, and over the course of three months I was able to explore different narratives, characters and plotlines. My extermination ended, however, when I started to develop a story that took me to the end of my section. Through this, I tested my own patience, I able to drive myself on, even when having lapses in imagination. This experience has taught me that I can avoid abandoning a story if I just put some extra thought in- which should improve my future projects a great deal!
Finally, my volunteering section. Out of every charity shop in my local area, only one was willing to take me on- RSPCA Radcliffe. At first, I was nervous to start my volunteering there, as it was a completely new environment, working with people I didn’t even know, adults who knew how to do their job properly. But sure enough, I settled in, and began to feel right at home. I started to enjoy going there, even if it was an hour out of my Saturday afternoon. I learnt the ways of the workplace and got to know the staff too- Patricia and Gaynor were there to show me the ropes, and I grew fond of the place very quickly. So, it’ll come as no surprise that leaving the shop after I’d completed the section left everyone quite upset, my mum included! I promised to pop in again to say hello every once in a while, and I know I’ll miss it there. After my GCSEs, I hope I can go back there, and maybe even work part time during college! Volunteering was my favourite part of DofE because it was a completely new and exciting experience that I’m so glad I got a chance to have!
Each individual section has proved extremely valuable to me in completely different ways, helping me to develop my character, my confidence, my talents and skills, and overall my experience in live, contributing to my transition into adulthood, where I hope to move on to greater things and take all of these memories and lessons along with me.
On top of the months of skills, sports and volunteering, we also undertook two expeditions, one practice and one qualifying, during which we carried all of our gear across two days and over twenty kilometres of countryside. Enduring unpredictable weather conditions, sore shoulders, damp socks and sunburn, we powered through each day, ending them with a rewarding plate of (almost) hot food and an acutely uncomfortable night in the tent. The expeditions taught me the importance of teamwork, along with endurance and navigation, and I know I’ll never forget them, the highs and the lows, for a very long time! I’ve never experienced anything like it before, testing my independence, my stamina and my organisation all at once, and I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it all over again.
Before I started this award, I never could’ve known how important it would prove to be. It’s a huge confidence boost to be able to think back to every accomplishment this award brought with it- experiencing a working environment (where I know I made lifelong companions), improving my fitness and enjoying the scenery while I did, and conjuring up a brand new story (which I will hopefully one day complete!)
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I am immensely grateful for this chance to prove and better myself, and I will not hesitate to recommend it to any other young people like me who want a tremendously rewarding challenge to enhance every aspect of their character, and teach them what school alone can’t- to squeeze every last drop out of life.
Friday 1st July is the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. At Tottington we have been working towards this anniversary not only with lessons in History on the battle’s significance and the importance of remembrance but also the assembly Hannah Smalley and Tahlia Greenhalgh have created following their visit to the Somme in February this year.
All who participated in the battlefield trip were asked to come up with a project to mark the centenary and as you may have seen around school, our students have created poppies to commemorate those British soldiers who died.
The aim was to create 20,000 poppies, one for each solider British who died on the 1st July 1916 – most of these deaths occurred within the first 20 minutes. We have created approximately 10,000 in school and other poppies have been made and displayed in local churches, youth groups and in other schools in Bury and Lancashire….our students poppies are also on display in the village.
The poppies are decorated with flags of countries involved in the battles, facts about the battle, the names of soldiers who died etc… If you get chance in form period on Friday, please take the opportunity to discuss this momentous occasion with our students.
I have included a link to a short clip on the Somme which could form part of your in form remembrance. The film, based on the iconic remembrance poem, For The Fallen, will be screened in town centres, airports and train stations across the country. It is also hoped that it will be watched in schools across the UK. The poignant tribute features descendants of Somme soldiers aged five to 87 years old who together span the four generations since the battle began.
Participants in the film include Clive Adlam, whose father Tom Adlam was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in taking a German trench. David Guyon, whose grandfather Major George Sutherland Guyon was killed in action on the first day, while leading the Bradford Pals. Of the youngest participants, Oscar Varns’ great great great uncle Ernest Copley was killed on 1 July 1916 at Fricourt and Francesca Loades’ great great grandfather Knightley Barlow survived. Between them they read: They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
There was also a special Somme100 vigil held at Westminster Abbey.
The link below takes you to a website which contains a description of the battle through the eyes of those who were there. http://www.centenarybattlefieldtours.org/somme100
If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to ask me!
Article written by Halle Preston yr10
It’s Monday morning, and even having gone to bed an hour early, I’m still feeling particularly tired. But it isn’t just a normal Monday morning- it’s the day after the Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition; two days and twenty-two kilometres of walking in the scorching hot sun.
After arriving at school at half past seven (which was a struggle for me, I’ll admit), we set off in the minibus for a one hour drive. The atmosphere was lively despite our early start, and we all chatted amongst ourselves until we finally arrived at our destination. We sorted out our bags and collected our maps, and soon enough we headed off on our own into the wilderness of Skipton.
Carrying backpacks weighing up to twenty kilograms, the twelve Duke of Edinburgh candidates split into teams of six, taking different routes around the countryside. Although the first thing our group did was climb a very steep hill, our route fortunately evened out, and we took every opportunity to rest and refuel with sweets and chocolate along the way. Despite a close encounter with a herd of cows, almost getting lost twice and getting roasted by the midday sun, we finally reached camp at about three o’clock, feeling rather fulfilled having navigated our way there independently and evaded disaster. Taking off my walking boots and stepping into my flip-flops was a heavenly feeling, and soon we were pitching our tents and organising our gear for the night ahead, including many bags of sweets and cookies. I was quick to jump in the shower, although I still ended up muddy all over again- the rope swing in camp was too big a temptation to resist.
Having enjoyed a hearty meal of chilli con carne and rice (lukewarm perhaps, but I wasn’t complaining), we settled down to sleep, aching and fatigued. Well, not quite settled; throughout the night, I woke myself up several times shivering, and wished that I hadn’t taken the blessing of the warm sunshine for granted earlier in the day! We were woken at seven, and had two hours to get cleared up and going. Being unaccustomed to this sort of rushing, I only just managed to collect myself by the time my teammates were ready to go.
By now, my shoulders were quite tender, my skin burnt and muscles aching relentlessly, so I was dreading the trek ahead. However, the second day’s walk proved extremely pleasant! Although it was even hotter than the day before, we passed through the first two checkpoints early without even stopping, so even before it was time for lunch we’d accumulated quite a lead. We took the opportunity to rest in the shade by a stream, where I tried to distribute the remainder of my sugary snacks. As we walked on, we witnessed spectacular scenery from our breath-taking vantage point up high in the hills, and all of our efforts seemed a lot more fulfilling.
The last stretch felt like the most toiling of all, knowing we’d soon be home and free to rest! When we reached the end, I almost fell asleep in the shade before we’d even got on the bus; I was eager to have a nap as soon as possible, and couldn’t even wait until I got home. And once we set off on the return journey, everyone else seemed to be drifting off around me too- I can’t blame them!
For the rest of the evening, I recounted the experience to my parents, caught up on all the messages and notifications I’d missed while my phone had been abandoned at home, and ate my heart out (as a reward, of course). Needless to say, it was amazing to finally be home! That aside, I think that even though it was incredibly hard, our trip was something that I’ll never forget. The thought of doing it all over again, though…now that’s something I’m trying not to think about just yet!