1 May 2018
The annual Joint Duke of Edinburgh Awards Ceremony took place at Bolton School, giving family members and staff an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of pupils who have completed Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
Bolton School Boys’ Division Headmaster Philip Britton gave an introduction to Outdoor Learning at the School. He spoke about the fundamental aspects of the ethos of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards which are shared by Bolton School: service, challenge, physical activity, leadership and teamwork. He also commented on the shared experiences and cemented friendships that come from completing Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
The guest speaker for the evening was Old Boy Charlie Boscoe, who attended Bolton School Boys’ Division from 1995 to 2002. During that time he was a Monitor, completed Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and enjoyed international trips with the Outdoor Pursuits department. After leaving school, his passion for outdoor pursuits continued with many more adventurous expeditions and he is now a broadcaster and writer, presenting coverage of World Cup rock climbing events and writing mountain guidebooks. He flew to the UK from Moscow to speak at the Awards Ceremony and returned to Austria the following day.
The theme for Charlie’s address was his theory that taking action is the most important thing in leading an adventurous life. He spoke briefly about some of the trips he took part in through School, including the amazing experience of visiting the Himalayas at the age of 16, and encouraged pupils to take every opportunity offered to them. His message was centred around five of his many adventures and the lessons he learned from them, but before he began he gave an important caveat. He said that real adventure is not like a Bear Grylls TV programme where there’s a helicopter and a crew that can come to the rescue: there are real risks and consequences, and he reminded pupils that they need to take things one step at a time.
Charlie’s five adventures charted his journey from novice to expert and on to his personal limit, and covered travels to Slokavia, the Lake District and the French Alps. He talked about the patience required to progress on from Duke of Edinburgh through different stages of ability. His first few adventures were littered with mistakes, poor planning and little or incorrect equipment, acquiring knowledge and skills along the way. He described these as the “definition of adventure” where the outcome was truly unknown. However, after ten or fifteen years of outdoor pursuits, he completed a technical climb just below the summit of Mont Blanc during which he was finally able to look at a view he had only seen in pictures before, and realised he finally knew what he was doing! The final adventure he shared was a climb near Chamonix where he realised that the risks of adventure were not as glamorous as he once thought: he had reached his limit. He said that outdoor pursuits helps you to understand who you are, even if you wish that you were braver when you come to that understanding. However, he added that doing something is a great way to find self-esteem, and the act of doing is fundamental to adventure. He said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. Go out there, have an adventure and take action.”
Several pupils were also invited to the stage to speak about their Duke of Edinburgh experiences as part of the ceremony.
Anita Cardozo in Year 11, who received her Silver Award on the evening, talked about her walking expedition, which was difficult but worth it for the memories. She also mentioned her skills section, which she completed by taking part in Young Enterprise. Johnathan Topping in Year 12 talked about the activities he took part in for Duke of Edinburgh and benefits of his weekly sessions in the gym, helping to look after horses, and volunteering at Pets’ Corner: three things he had no prior experience with, which helped him to gain confidence and transferrable skills. Bryony Meech in Year 11 discussed her enjoyable and relaxing Silver Award expedition and shared some of the funny stories from her group’s cycling trip. She recommended the Silver Award to younger pupils and said that she will use her experiences so far as good preparation for taking part in the Gold Award.
Three pupils who had completed the Gold Award talked about their experiences, including the residential section. Luke Cavanaugh in Year 13 took part in an intensive week-long Russian course in Moscow. He described a visit to the Gulag Museum, which he and his group decided to explore individually, and during which an elderly Russian man came up to him and began to talk emotionally about the prison camps. He said challenging himself and sustaining that conversation, even though it was outside his comfort zone and not something that his A Level Russian lessons had prepared him for, was one of his personal greatest Duke of Edinburgh achievements. He added that the small achievements that help define Duke of Edinburgh should be celebrated at the Awards Ceremony, as well as the large ones. Finally, two girls who had completed the Gold Award spoke about their residentials, a medical science course and a performing arts course, which they had chosen based on their personal interests and which they said have been invaluable in interviews and on their personal statements. They also talked about the longer expedition, involving wild camping, which helped to improve their perseverance, communication and skills.
Duke of Edinburgh Awards were presented to Bolton School Girls’ Division pupils by Headmistress Sue Hincks and Miss Wadey, Bolton School Girls’ Division Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator, and to Bolton School Boys’ Division pupils by Mr Britton and Mr Davidson, Bolton School Boys’ Division Head of Middle School.
The evening drew to a close with an address from Bolton School Girls’ Division Headmistress Sue Hincks, who thanked Charlie for his insights and encouraged pupils to move on to the next stage of Duke of Edinburgh, particularly those who have completed the Silver Award to do the Gold Award next. She also thanked Miss Wadey, who is leaving at the end of term for another teaching post, and led the audience in a round of applause.
The evening was a wonderful celebration of all that can be achieved through Duke of Edinburgh Awards.