It was a huge pleasure to be presented with my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Buckingham Palace. Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, Sophie, The Countess of Wessex and Prince Andrew, The Duke of York were in attendance, along with numerous celebrity award presenters. I had the honour of Prince Edward asking me about my Residential Section in Tamil Nadu, which he seemed pleased with, even conveying how the “food gets spicier” the further South in India you go. Gaby Roslin, former Children in Need host, presented me with my Certificate, while a photo of us even got onto one of D of E London’s social media channels. It was a fantastic morning, with the chance to explore the 40 acres of Buckingham Palace Gardens, in addition to the Award Presentation.
I was the only Millhillian present, perhaps being the first ever to complete the Gold Award whilst still a pupil at our School. However, the recently added provision of the D of E scheme at Mill Hill, run through the CCF, will hopefully see many more Millhillians visiting Buckingham or St James Palace in the near future.
I would like to highlight what an honour it was to be able to represent Mill Hill at such a prestigious event. However, I don’t believe my completion of the Award would have been possible without Mill Hill either. On joining the School in the Fourth Form I was a largely shy and quiet student, who didn’t take part in too many extra-curricular activities. In the Fifth Form, I went on my first ever residential trip with the CCF, and since then have been on many more and journeyed to Yorkshire, Iceland and India on multiple-night voyages. Tamil Nadu was, of course, one of my favourite co-curricular experiences, with our fantastic Trip Leader, Mrs Sanchez. Broadly, the many skills I learned within the CCF, together with the confidence various members of the teaching staff have given me over the years, have developed me into a more worldly, amiable and confident person. I am, therefore, unreservedly grateful for the brilliant work of the teachers (especially Mr Bingham, Mrs Kaplan and the Tutors of Atkinson House) and CCF staff (namely Major Norrington and WO1 Albrecht) for their continued dedication not only to me, but to the School community as a whole.