DofE Gold winners celebrate achievement at Buckingham Palace

A delegation of UCS pupils past and present joined Headmaster, Mark Beard, at Buckingham Palace Gardens to celebrate the achievement of completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards in the company of newly appointed Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward.

Every young person who achieves the DofE Gold Award is invited to attend a dedicated celebration event and the Palace gathering last Friday, 19th May, marked the pinnacle of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award journey for four current UCS pupils and nine alumni.

“Achieving a Gold Award is a big deal so it’s only right you get a proper celebration of your outstanding achievements,” said Headmaster, Mark Beard, who accompanied the UCS contingent together with James Firth, UCS’s DofE Award Manager. The delegation included leavers from as far back as 2019, for whom this was a celebration four years in the waiting given that these events only recently resumed after Covid.

“Spending time together in the magnificent surroundings of Buckingham Palace Gardens was the culmination of a personal commitment which, for many, began in Year 9 [or Lower Remove] with the Bronze Award,” said Mr Firth. Typically, UCS pupils progress through the Bronze and Silver programmes before achieving the Gold Award during their Sixth Form years.

The DofE champions resilience, adventure, skills and service, and is extremely popular at UCS with more than 300 pupil participants. The school has one of the highest completion rates in London. Students commit several hours each week to the Award, volunteering with local charities and organisations, and undertaking overnight expeditions during the Summer Term (including wild camping in Snowdonia for the Gold Award).

Last year’s UCS DofE cohort contributed over 2,500 volunteering hours in support of organisations across North London. Other Gold Award winners were unable to attend Friday’s reception.

As stated by the Duke of Edinburgh himself last week, the journey towards completing the Award challenges young people to dedicate themselves to activities and requires considerable resilience. The DofE continues to be a fundamental part of the school’s extra-curricular offering and inspires pupils to take advantage of the wide-ranging provision beyond the core academic curriculum at UCS.

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