27 January 2014

Duke of Edinburgh award students take centre stage

Young people on the Brighton & Hove Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme are hosting their own ceremony for the first time on Tuesday 28 January at 7.30pm. The event, at Hove Town Hall, will honour 351 young people who have completed their Bronze or Silver Awards.

The evening starts with a drumming performance by two deaf young people from Hamilton Lodge School. This will be followed by a short drama about the scheme by students from Dorothy Stringer school.

This year students on the scheme have given more than 5,000 hours of volunteering time to charities including Scope, Oxfam the RSPCA. Activities they have taken part in include amateur radio, dress-making and embroidery, web design, Irish dancing, circus skills and the National Cipher Challenge.

Dorothy Stringer student Rachel Garrett’s band Grasshopper has played gigs at the Dome and the Pavilion Theatre. During the six months she spent on the skills section of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme Grasshopper recorded an EP which went on sale in Resident records.

Rachel volunteered at the Lost Cats charity, where she looked after stray and abandoned cats and did admin work. For the physical section of the scheme she did Aqua Aerobics along with four of her friends at the Metropole Hotel.

Rachel said: "The scheme made me try so many new things. I proved to myself that I can achieve things even when pushed out of my comfort zone – I knew I’d find the expedition hard – and less scared to try new things in the future.

“It's made me a braver person and more open to new ideas.”

Taekwon-do enthusiast and maths expert Roshni Mistry worked towards her second degree black belt for the physical section of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. For her skills section she decided to really put her maths expertise on the line by entering the National Cipher Challenge.

She joined a club to learn how to decode ciphers … and ended up coming in the top 30 nationally! According to her assessor she ’demonstrated an amazing use of computer technology to crack classic cipher’.

For her Volunteering section Roshni, also a student at Dorothy Stringer, taught maths booster sessions to younger school children.

She said: “My best memory would have to be on the expedition when one of us played the ukulele while we sang to some sheep in a nearby field ... It was a cheerful moment and a nice break from all the walking!”

“I would tell anyone thinking of doing the Duke of Edinburgh scheme to go for it. It’s a big challenge but definitely an enjoyable one. There are many different options so you’ll be able to find something you’ll like and if you try something new, you may discover a hidden talent.”

Roshni has already started her Silver award and is currently volunteering with Blind Veterans UK.

The students acting as hosts for the event on January 28 are themselves Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders who have completed all three levels of the scheme. They will talk about the young people’s achievements and introduce leaders from the 15 Brighton & Hove schools and youth centres taking part.

Presenting the certificates will be the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field.

The city’s Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is coordinated by Brighton & Hove City Council’s youth service. Also attending will be council’s director of children’s services, Pinaki Ghoshal, and the chair of the council’s children and young people committee, Councillor Sue Shanks.

Councillor Shanks said: “Thousands of our young people have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh scheme over the years.

IIt’s great to see young people testing themselves by trying new things, helping other people and enjoying the great outdoors.”