Back at the end of December I had a very exciting trip to St James’ Palace in London with Abbey to collect her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award which she had been working towards for 18 months previously.
She did her Duke of Edinburgh Gold by completing a personal programme of activities in five sections, Physical, Skills, Expedition, a Residential and the final task of volunteering which saw her going to Gambia in November 2014 to help re-build a school.
Gambia was an unforgettable experience and despite working hard, she got some downtime too. I nearly had heart failure when she sent me a picture of her with a snake wrapped around her neck and posing with a crocodile, but I am proud to say that she is planning on going back out to volunteer for another week to help get the school finished.
The day started at her company Head Office where we were treated to a champagne lunch and all her colleagues all did a presentation about their achievements, documenting the highs and lows. There were only about 20 of them who completed the course with double that dropping out so it was a big achievement for Abbey to finish it.
It was then time to head to St James’ Palace to see her collect her Duke of Edinburgh award and meet the Duke himself.
St. James’s Palace is the senior Palace of the Sovereign, with a long history as a Royal residence. As the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices, it is often in use for official functions and is not open to the public. It is simply stunning inside with deep red and gold walls and curtains.
There were several rooms filled with proud parents and their children waiting for their big moment and we were in the room where Kate and William had their official engagement photos, with a view of the magnificent throne room.
Prince Philip visited each room in turn and we were given tips to keep him talking. He was a very lovely man, as sharp as a tack with a wicked sense of humour. He chatted to the group for a few minutes and asked what they had done and where they had been, often quipping back with facts from his own visits abroad. Sarah Willingham (of Dragons Den fame) was also in our room and he chatted to her for a while and asked if she knew what ‘Entrepreneur’ translated to – she didn’t but we all chuckled when he told us it meant undertaker!
Once he had left it was Sarah’s turn to talk to us and she told us all about how she started, to stick to your guns and really go for what you want to achieve. She was really inspirational and so friendly, stopping to chat to us before we left.
Being in a royal palace was an experience in itself and is something we will never forget, I am just disappointed that we weren’t allowed to take photo’s, but the official ones have finally arrived and are now proudly on display on my wall!
It’s been 60 years since the DofE Award launched and they are planning on celebrating it with the Diamond Challenge – mobilising the nation to get out of their comfort zone and do a challenge in 2016. The challenges fall into 3 categories – Adventure, Personal and Skill and the challenge can be anything from learning a new language to cycling from London to Brighton to learning how to make macaroons.
Sign up now and your £20 (£15 for under 18s) fee gets you an exclusive Challenger Kit – complete with t-shirt and Challenge Companion, a journal and keepsake to help you at each stage of your challenge; from choosing, to planning, taking part and remembering it forever.
To complete your Challenge, we need you to raise a minimum of £60 – it is their 60th birthday, after all! Then you’ll not only be rewarded with a limited edition DofE Diamond Challenge pin and a huge sense of achievement, you’ll also help to transform lives.
Raise £40 and you’ll help fund the registration cost of a DofE programme for a young person from a disadvantaged community. Raise £100 and you’ll help us train more inspiring DofE Leaders. Or reach £150 and you’ll fund one of our specially-trained local operations team for a day.
We have signed up already, will you?