May 1998                                       113
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award logo


The atrocious weather over the Easter period did not manage to dampen the spirits of 27 young people who travelled from all over the UK to take part in a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold Residential based at Mundesley House on the Isles of Scilly. Even the ’Fortunate Isles’ did not escape the cold winds, rain and hail but, with some programme changes, everyone managed to take part in all the activities on offer.

Canoeing and Gig Rowing were hardest hit but everyone had a chance to get out on the water once the wind subsided and the sun shone through.

St. Mary’s must have some of the cleanest beaches! Group after group battled against the wind to clean up the beaches on the more sheltered side of the island as an alternative to their canoeing or gig rowing activity.

Throughout the week groups involved themselves in projects. One such was the repair and renovation of a footpath through the Higher Moors and the groups were justifiably proud of the result. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of gravel and sand were carted to the site and levelled into a smart new path. Other groups worked with the local Ornithologist, checking birds caught in his nets, ringing and recording them. When the wind blew too hard for these tasks they watched slides of birds from all over the world. One group found a kestrel in trouble. He had been struggling to find food in the high winds as hovering to look for the prey was impossible. He refused to take the luncheon meat from the sandwiches and unfortunately was found dead the next day.

During the week groups planned routes around the island and set off on mountain bikes to explore the locality. The local tea rooms and ice cream outlets were well patronised en route! Once the weather calmed down the groups got out onto the water in St. Mary’s Harbour. The canoeists even managed to paddle round the Garrison to Porthcressa Beach one day! One group paddled to Tresco for an ice cream but hitched a lift back in the safety boat. The training gig, Slippen, was launched towards the end of the course and the groups learned how to row her across the Harbour. All five groups were timed over a set course and the two fastest teams rowed in a final race. The Golden Eagle was launched for the race and it proved to be a close thing while the other groups lined the shore to cheer on the two teams as they battled to the finish line.

During the evenings everyone played football, volleyball and basketball. They took part in a ’mini Olympics’, ’captured the flag’ on the Garrison and had a very interesting visit to the Museum. An Initiative Test took them round the island solving clues and collecting feathers and pine cones.

At the end of the week all five groups made a presentation to their leaders and to the organisers of the activities. These presentations took a variety of forms, The News at Ten, The Oscars Ceremony, Blind Date, a poem and a song. The content of the presentations showed that everyone had enjoyed themselves thoroughly and, without exception, wanted to visit the Isles of Scilly again. In the words of the chorus of the group song:

The young people had travelled to the course from all over the UK, one young man had come from Fort William and was awarded the ’Oscar’ for the most dedicated traveller. The majority came from Devon and Cornwall and have made friends and contacts now throughout the length and breadth of the UK.

All in all, another huge success and a memorable week with a group of young people who should be proud of themselves for their dedication and enthusiasm. They are great ambassadors for themselves, their parents and the Award Scheme.

David E. Baker,
County Award Officer,

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