Two of our Gold Duke of Edinburgh qualified students, Wendy and Matt, attended the awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace last week. Here, Matt writes of this unique experience:
“We arrived early to the palace and I was a little panicked because there was a HUGE queue of people, but we were directed to another gate which was essentially the very front gate to Buckingham Palace and got in very quickly. We weren’t allowed to take photos until we were in the gardens. Then we checked in with our group, and realised that there were 36 groups, split up by area, I was in the Oxfordshire group. We wandered around the garden waiting for it to start, and saw the two bands; the Band of the Royal Marines and the Band of the Royal Engineers. The garden was so big and the bands were so far apart that there was no sound interference. There was also a big statue specifically made for the DofE presentation. When it was time to start, we gathered in our groups and were organised into two semi circles with recipients on one side and supporting parents on the other, which would allow the member of the royal family who was presenting our award to come and talk to us. While we were waiting we were introduced to our celebrity presenter, Ronan Keating, Irish pop star, known for being a member of BoyZone as well as solo work.
‘Our Royal’ was Sophie, Countess of Wessex. She was very nice, and asked questions about what we did and where we were from. She also talked to our parents and spoke about how they would have supported us to achieve our awards, and joked about how when her daughter got back from her Silver DofE she questioned whether or to throw away or wash her backpack!
Once Sophie left, Ronan Keating talked about his career and how, had DofE been available to him at 16 he would have taken part. We were then given time to ask questions about his career and life. Then we were taken to have our photo taken, and our group of approximately 40 recipients was split in two for the photos. Once the photos were taken we went back into our groups and had our certificates presented by Ronan Keating and we were given information about the DofE challenge, asking us to help raise money for the DofE charity.
Then we were done. We were given free roam of the gardens to take pictures and meet the other celebrities in attendance. After this my mum and I left, took some more photos in front of the Palace, and then had a champagne afternoon tea (I’m 19 don’t worry!) in a local hotel, which was lovely, and then we went home and back to school!