Horsham teenager Millie Brand was among 25 young people from West Sussex who attended a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Millie was at the royal venue to receive her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award from the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward.
Millie, who completed her award at the Horsham Open Centre, said: “Doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
“Every expedition was an absolute adventure, especially the night of torrential rain on our wild camp in the Brecon Beacons. We were very tempted to give up. But somehow we pulled on through it as a team, and the sense of achievement at the end was phenomenal.
“As well as all the laughs and memories along the way, DofE has given me so much more. It helped me secure a job and as a result of my residential section on a summer school at the University of Sussex, I was offered a place to study based on lower A-level results, without which I wouldn’t have got in.
“Having finished my award, I definitely want to keep pushing myself. Whatever happens, I know that the experience I have gained from my Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards will continue to help me along the way, and it is something I will always be very proud of.”
West Sussex County Council cabinet member for children and young people Stephen Hillier said: “The confidence that DofE gives young people is incredible. It has made such a difference to so many lives and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have fun whilst building up their skills.”
The DofE Award programme is designed to take young people through a challenging and rewarding programme of personal development with three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Supported by West Sussex County Council, 65 centres are delivering DofE in West Sussex with individual DofE levels often taking between 12 and 18 months of hard work and dedication.
Those who achieve a Gold DofE Award will volunteer, learn a skill, get fit, take part in a week long residential and plan and undertake an expedition in wild country.
To find out more about taking part in West Sussex, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/dofe, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact a school, college, youth group or one of the five Open Centres in the county.