This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Award; as part of the year-long celebration, a garden party at Buckingham Palace was held on 16th May. The event was a chance to recognise all the centres across the world that run the award as well as celebrate those who have achieved their Gold Award. Mr Hunt and I were invited to the star-studded event and took the opportunity to represent the school and receive our commemorative plaque.

We arrived in London just after midday and walked the 2.5 miles from Euston to Buckingham Palace through Shaftsbury Avenue and Piccadilly cutting through St James’ Park. After a bite to eat, we entered Buckingham Palace via the Hyde Park Corner entrance with heavy security.

Once inside, it was truly wonderful and surreal to be surrounded by such greenery in Central London.  We walked through the beautiful gardens to the lawned area at the back of the palace. It was a great scene.  We had to register at our table area and received instructions to be back at 3.50pm when the festivities would begin promptly. At our briefing, we met our assigned VIP, Natalie Coyle who was presenting our plaques and certificates. The group was mixed with schools from Warrington, Cheshire East and West, and Gold Award achievers. The royal etiquette was explained, no bowing or curtseying, a simple bow of the head, no handshakes and to directly respond to any questions. Whilst they played the national anthem, Prince Phillip and The Earl and Countess of Wessex appeared from the palace and the presentations began.

We were allocated the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, who was very nice; he took time to speak with all the Gold Award holders and had a brief conversation with the leaders. Natalie gave a speech about her experiences and how completing her Gold Award helped her immensely in coping with the situations she has faced through her singing career. We saw many other VIP guests including Jon Culshaw, Philip Schofield, Strictly Dancers, TV Presenters and sports stars. After the presentation, we exited the
Palace via the front gate through the hordes of tourists; this made us feel very important in front of the tourists pointing and taking pictures.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many parents who have supported their children through the award and to the many members of staff who have helped run expeditions over the past nine years that we have offered the award.

Mr Nolan, Duke of Edinburgh
Co-ordinator