Horsham and Steyning teenagers receive gold awards at Buckingham Palace

Laura and Stuart McLaughlin outside Buckingham Palace
Laura and Stuart McLaughlin outside Buckingham Palace

Teenagers from Horsham Open Centre and Steyning Grammar School were among a small group of lucky West Sussex students who were presented with gold awards at a prestigious Buckingham Palace event this week.

The group were given the once-in-a-lifetime experience in honour of The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award’s Diamond Anniversary and were chosen to receive their DofE Gold Award at Buckingham Palace on Monday (May 16).

Laura McLaughlin, from Horsham Open Centre, and Jennifer Mason, from Steyning Grammar School, received their awards and a certificate from comedian Alistair McGowan.

There were also four people from Christ’s Hospital School, Lancing College and Worth School, in Turners Hill.

The special celebration was the first one in ten years as around 1,000 gold award recipients gathered on the lawns for a garden party in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Earl of Wessex and the Countess of Wessex.

Laura, 18, from Horsham, said: “I was excited to be selected to have this experience! I’d recommend DofE as it builds skills like team work and setting targets for yourself.

“Now I volunteer at Horsham Open Centre as I enjoy giving back to the people who gave me DofE, and want to pass it on to other young people.”

As an organisation licensed to deliver The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, West Sussex County Council was received a plaque to recognise their support of the DofE Charity.

Carl Burton, Principal Manager for Family Operations, who accepted the award, said: “We were delighted to be recognised for our support, but ultimately it is the young people who take part in the DofE scheme who benefit.

“The DofE experience enables young people to develop skills leading to success in their chosen career. It is such a valuable addition to someone’s CV and is something many employers look for as it shows young peoples’ ingenuity, problem solving ability and interpersonal skills.”

Other youngsters at the event from West Sussex County Council centres were Richard Creswick and Thomas Liddell, from Bishop Luffa School, Hugo Healy, from Hurstpierpoint College, Aaron Brown, from Seaford College, Olivia Winther, from Midhurst Youth Wing, and Katie Draper, from Chichester Open Centre.

The DofE is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary throughout 2016, having supported millions of young people in the UK and across the globe to achieve DofE Awards since it was founded in 1956.

For more information on the DofE Diamond challenge taking place throughout 2016, visit https://dofediamondchallenge.org/.

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