Gold standard for Shire award winners

The Earl of Wessex congratulates the Aberdeenshire group
The Earl of Wessex congratulates the Aberdeenshire group

The number of young people in Aberdeenshire achieving gold status in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has soared.

A total of 43 pupils and former pupils earned the gold award in this academic year, up from 20 in 2016 and 18 in the previous year.

At all levels, 400 young people have achieved Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Awards in the school year - 255 bronze, 102 silver and 43 gold across the 18 Duke of Edinburgh Centres in Aberdeenshire.

Some of the gold award recipients recently travelled to Holyrood to meet to meet DofE trustee, the Earl of Wessex, and collect their gold awards.

Prince Edward praised the group on their successes and heard about their experiences during the scheme.

Gillian Owen, who is chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee, has also congratulated all who took part in this year’s award scheme.

She said: “It is great to see so many achieving at the highest level and as well as being a huge achievement for the

participants, this is also a great accolade for the council employees and volunteers who support the programme locally.

“We are very proud of the team effort across Aberdeenshire.”

Tim and Olivia Churchfield, from Banchory, picked up their awards together this year, accompanied by their parents and grandparents.

All three generations were particularly happy to be celebrating together as Tim and Olivia’s father also volunteers on behalf of the programme.

A large number of young people represented the Banchory area this year and fellow participant Brodie Amy Mitchell explained her experience: “I wasn’t sure about DofE to start with as I had never done anything like it before but taking part has helped me find my love for exploring.

“I am now studying for a HND in health, fitness and exercise because of this.”

Michelle Stephen, also from team Banchory said: “The gold DofE experience was very worthwhile, including canoeing and walking for four days in the wonderful Scottish scenery.

“The whole experience set me up for leaving home and I wish I could do it all over again.”

Gold award recipients in Deeside and Donside were: Annabel Everard, Brodie Amy Mitchell, Olivia KJ Churchfield, Robyn Cuthbertson, Tim Churchfield, Michelle Stephen, Sarah Petersen, Craig Jervis, all Banchory; Laura Ann Smith, Alford Academy; Claire Milne, Charlotte Reid, Westhill.