Halle Preston’s Duke of Edinburgh Personal Statement

Halle Preston’s Duke of Edinburgh Personal Statement

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.

Battle of the Somme Remembrance

Battle of the Somme Remembrance

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!

How long does litter take to rot?

How long does litter take to rot?

  • Anti-litter campaigners recently found 33-year-old discarded crisp packets
  • Plastic bags & bottles could last hundreds, thousands or millions of years
  • Not just man made problem – banana skins can hang around for a month

We all know a stretch of road that is festooned with litter. Perhaps it’s next to a lay-by, an unsightly sprawl of drinks cans, coffee cups, burger cartons and cigarette packets.

We live in hope that by the next time we go past, the local council will have tidied it up — but no, it will still be there the following week, and in all likelihood the week after that.

In fact, as anti-litter campaigners in the Forest of Dean have just discovered, litter can stick around for a lot longer than just a few weeks.

It’s not just man-made items — even banana skins can hang around for more than a month, while orange peel can take up to two years to fully disintegrate

During a clean-up along the A48, the campaigners found crisp packets that were a staggering 33 years old, which meant they had been thrown out of car windows some 1,716 weeks ago.

Disturbingly, even though the crisps would have been eaten when Margaret Thatcher was in power, the packets looked no more than a few days old.

You might have thought this litter could constitute some sort of rubbish record, but you would be wrong.

Plastic bags and bottles could potentially last hundreds, thousands or even millions of years without decomposing, according to scientists.

And it’s not just man-made items — even banana skins can hang around for more than a month, while orange peel can take up to two years to fully disintegrate.

Here, in a list of junk shame, is your guide to how long litter lasts. Generally, these times will apply to litter thrown at the side of a road or dropped on a country walk, where it will be affected by animals and the elements…

Apple cores. Although this is a rapid decomposition time, throwing away cores and other pieces of fruit encourages scavengers such as rats, which are seldom welcome anywhere.

Paper towels, paper bags, newspapers, tissues. With these items, decomposition time can vary enormously depending on how they are disposed of.

Toilet paper put into the ground actually takes far longer to decompose than if it is exposed to the elements.


Cereal boxes, paper bags, banana skins. And banana skins can take far longer than this to decompose if the weather is cool.

As the skins are designed to protect the fruit inside, they are full of cellulose, the same material from which cellophane wrappers are made.

Earlier this year, conservationists warned that Ben Nevis was being blighted by discarded fruit peels including banana skins, which were taking months to decompose.

Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not litter.


Waxed milk and fruit juice cartons, cardboard. With such items, the decomposition time will vary enormously depending on the thickness of the carton.

Keen gardeners should bear in mind that cardboard can be composted, so don’t necessarily chuck it out.


Cotton clothing such as T-shirts, paperback books.

Of all textiles, cotton is the most biodegradable — it is, of course, made from a plant. Cotton can be composted, and if the conditions are damp and warm enough, a piece of light cotton clothing can biodegrade in as little as a week.


Light woollen clothing such as pullovers and socks. Wool is a natural product and will rot outside just like the carcass of a sheep.

In fact, when wool decomposes it releases into the soil useful nutrients such as the protein keratin, so although it may look unsightly as litter, it does no long-term damage to the environment.


Orange peel, plywood, cigarette ends. However, some research indicates that cigarette ends can last well over a decade.

Cigarettes contain more than 600 ingredients, of which the longest lasting is cellulose acetate — a plastic found in 95 per cent of cigarette filters — which takes a very long time to biodegrade.


Heavy woollen clothing such as overcoats.


Plastic bags, but a few studies suggest these can sometimes last for around 1,000 years. Many newer bags are designed to decompose when exposed to sunlight, though the majority are made from high-density polyethylene.

This is made with refined petroleum and it is not easily decomposed — the natural micro-organisms in soil don’t recognise the chemicals as food, so don’t break them down.

30 TO 40 YEARS

Nylon items such as tights and wind-cheaters, carpet, disposable nappies — although some think these could last 500 years, depending on conditions.

While they are immensely convenient, disposable nappies really are pretty toxic items, even if they haven’t been used. They are treated with many chemicals, such as toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene, as well as a chemical called dioxin, which is a highly toxic carcinogen.


Tin cans, car tyres, trainers, foam coffee cups, leather — but leather that has been chemically treated, as it is for most fashion items, can last far longer. Thicker leather found on shoes can take a similar length of time — perhaps some 80 years.

75 TO 80 YEARS

Crisp packets. In fact, the recent finds in the Forest of Dean are relatively young compared with that found by Neil Phillips on Saunton Beach in Devon in 2012: a packet of Golden Wonder crisps from 1967 that looked as if it had been thrown away only a week before. With many packets made from ‘metallised’ plastic film, they last an absurdly long time considering how quickly their contents are consumed.


Six-pack plastic ring holder — though it may last up to 450 years. These are particularly hazardous to animals, as the rings can get trapped around their necks and choke them, or cut into limbs.


Aluminium drinks cans. These could actually stick around for up to half a millennium and, again, are a danger to small animals, which can crawl inside and get stuck.

It is far better to recycle aluminium, as this can be done indefinitely and the energy cost of recycling cans is far lower than creating new ones.

Twenty recycled cans can be made using the same amount of energy it takes to make one new can, and recycling just one can save as much energy as it takes to power a television set for three hours.


Plastic bottles — though petrochemical products like these never fully biodegrade and the chemicals just stay in the soil.

Many plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is almost impossible to break down within any reasonable length of time.

It therefore really does need to be recycled, and bottles made from PET are increasingly being recycled to produce synthetic carpet fibres.


Glass jars and bottles, but these may last indefinitely, as glass formed in lava flows millions of years ago is still present today.

Glass is mainly composed of silica, which is one of the most stable and enduring minerals on the planet.

And as well as looking unsightly, the greatest problem with glass is that it is breakable, and shards do appalling damage to creatures tempted to eat or lick any food or drink residues.


Batteries. While the thin metal casings break down eventually, the chemicals inside, such as zinc chloride, lead, mercury and cadmium, endure in the ground and are toxic.

This is why they should be recycled rather than put in the main bin.

Two to three months: Waxed milk and fruit juice cartons, cardboard. With such items, the decomposition time will vary enormously depending on the thickness of the carton

50 years: Tin cans, car tyres, trainers, foam coffee cups, leather — but leather that has been chemically treated, as it is for most fashion items, can last far longer

With many packets made from ‘metallised’ plastic film, crisp packets last an absurdly long time considering how quickly their contents are consumed

500 years: Plastic bottles — though petrochemical products like these never fully biodegrade and the chemicals just stay in the soil.

Plastic bags can take 10 to 20 years to decompose but a few studies suggest these can sometimes last for around 1,000 years

Batteries – while the thin metal casings break down eventually, the chemicals inside, such as zinc chloride, lead, mercury and cadmium, endure in the ground and are toxic

Halle Preston’s Duke of Edinburgh Personal Statement

Duke of Edinburgh Adventures

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!

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