Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
Woodbridge School offers all three levels of the Award (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) and is available to pupils from Year 10 upwards. This excellent scheme develops skills, fitness, demonstrates commitment, and resilience to adversity. The Award broadly consists of the following sections:
- Volunteering – helping someone, your community or the environment
- Physical – becoming fitter through sport, dance or fitness activities
- Skills – developing existing talents or trying something new
- Expedition – planning, training for and completing an adventurous journey
- Residential (gold only) – staying and working away from home as part of a team
The expeditions form a major part of the award. Map skills and camp craft skills are tested initially near to home around Suffolk for the Bronze Award, before taking on the more challenging hills of the Peak District and Lake District for the Silver and Gold Awards. We also organise a Gold overseas expedition roughly every 2 years. In the past pupils have taken part in expeditions to Morocco, Peru and Nepal. In 2014 we will return to Morocco where pupils will complete a residential project, their expedition, and will then finish with a challenging trek; the ascent of Mount Toubkal, which stands at 4167m high.
The satisfaction and sense of achievement on gaining the Award has led many to complete all three levels during their time at Woodbridge. Not only has the scheme proved highly enjoyable for most pupils, it has also left them with an achievement admired by many employers.
Visit the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award website.
Previous Head of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, Sasha Martin, reports on a trip of a lifetime to Morocco with 20 students and three staff for a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award expedition;
“We were trekking the Djebel Saghro – a mountain range just north of the Sahara desert. From the moment the minibuses dropped us off, we did not see another road or vehicle for a week. Despite some language barriers (we all learnt a few words of Arabic and Berber), we were honoured with a real insight into Moroccan ways and the culture and were even invited into some of the muleteer’s sparse homes.
A couple of highlights were climbing the highest peak in the area – Kouaouch – which at 2592m is twice the height of Ben Nevis, and the evening of dancing with the music provided from the muleteers.”
“Our tour started inevitably in Lima. Encased in fog, polluted and busy it seemed a dreary introduction to Peru.
Scratch the surface and the passions of street side Latin dancing, bright yellow Volkswagen Beetles and smiling locals provided a more welcoming perspective. Still, our escape was rapid. Hitting the road south the sun came out to reveal the dramatic swell of Pacific breakers. Fighting off the persistence of greedy pelicans we headed out to watch the seal colonies of the Islas Ballestas. Next to dune exploration.
Only a few miles from the coast, the vista opened into a desert fit for any Sinbad epic – vast and barren. This gave considerable scope to crash through it at lightning speed in six man buggies. A steady mountainous climb beyond brought us to Cusco. Here we found the fusion of culture that felt like the real Peru.
Sprinkled amongst the grand colonial Spanish churches were the ancient walls and burial temples of an earlier Inca era. As a base-camp for the Inca trail it was matchless, providing provisions which included, for the braver students, guinea pigs. Four days of lama spotting followed. Camped high in the Andean foothills we trekked from one Inca ruin to the next like joining the dots of an ancient civilisation, conquering Warmiwanuska, Dead Woman’s Pass (4150m), conquering the altitude and conquering the odd fitness difficulty.
At last before us the magnificence of Machu Picchu was unveiled. The Cusco plateau also saw us undertake the community project that we had all looked forward to so much, the creation of the village football pitch via painting goalposts, moving rocks and levelling turf. Our reward? (as well as the inevitable match) – a stone roasted sheep to share.
To finish we plunged into the Amazonian jungle gliding down the Tambopata river on the Brazilian border witnessing crocs and capybaras, piranhas and birds of paradise. Once more football with the locals was a highlight (particularly as we won!) made all the more bizarre by the audience of vultures atop the pitch-side huts.”
“My trip to Nepal with Woodbridge School in July this year was a truly memorable one. Trekking through the Annapurna foot hills, rafting down raging rivers and trudging the jungle on elephant back are just some of the incredible experiences I shared with a group of fantastic friends.
However, one short visit to Ghar Sita Mutu, the home for abandoned children set up in 2001 by Beverly Bronson, a volunteer social worker, made more impact on the Woodbridge School pupils who visited than anything else during the trip.
Stepping through the gate of Ghar Sita Mutu was a magical moment. Leaving behind the bustling, noisy street of a Kathmandu suburb we found a tranquil courtyard, beautiful house; a true sanctuary.
The staff there also run a training programme for destitute women and an outreach initiative for the many needy families in Kathmandu, the capital city with a population of just over 1 million people. We were thrilled to be able to spend some time with the amazing children at the house; whether it was pushing toddlers on the swings or taking on teenagers at basketball, the children embraced our company.
The work done at Ghar Sita Mutu is invaluable, however we were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque for £300, as well as sharing a wonderful time with the 20 amazing children who live there. Nepal is an enchanting country whose astonishing beauty and extraordinary people made a huge impression on all of us. Our overwhelming memory is of Ghar Sita Mutu, which unforgettably means, House with a Heart.”