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As the weather becomes more clement and we head into the balmy days of spring once again, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions season re-opens for another year and staff and students begin readying themselves for their forthcoming expeditions.
There is a great deal of organisation, time and commitment which goes into setting these expeditions up – not to mention their smooth and safe completion – and it was in recognition of this that Mr Peter Shuttleworth was invited down to St James Palace as a VIP guest earlier in the year. In a ceremony which marked Peter’s 25 years of involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Trent College, many of them as its Co-Ordinator, he was a VIP guest at the Palace and was presented to Prince Edward, Duke of Wessex. The ceremony acknowledged his influence on the hundreds of students he has supported over the years through their completion of the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, and as well as the Duke himself, Peter was congratulated by intrepid mountaineer, author and broadcaster Nigel Vardy – who coincidentally came to Trent this year as part of the Whole School Programme of talks and lectures.
‘On the first expedition I helped out with, we took a student with cystic fibrosis up to the Scottish Borders’, Peter remembers. ‘The determination of that young man to complete the challenge of the expedition was remarkable, and his achievement has stayed with me ever since.’ Of course there have been many changes over the quarter of the century, and challenges facing both students and organisers. ‘Nowadays we use the latest GPS tracking equipment, and I am a big supporter of its use. At the end of a long day out on the Moors, sometimes in very difficult conditions, it means that we are able to locate a group whose map-reading skills have gone awry, and quickly and safely help them get back on track with their expedition – quite literally. It takes the guesswork out of where they might have got to!’ He also reflected on the many staff volunteers who have supported him over the years, often giving up their holidays in order to do so; ‘It’s all about their co-operation, friendship and good humour – as well as dedicated professionalism - which make the expeditions so successful and enjoyable for all.’
The visit to the Palace was made even more special by the presence of seven Old Tridents, there to collect their Gold Awards. Peter commented; ‘It’s the pride on their faces – and those of their parents – which shows that this is still a considerable challenge, and is what makes all of our endeavours so rewarding.’ Preparations are already well under way for this season’s expeditions, which will involve over 100 students and take place over Easter (Silver Qualifying and Gold Training), May (Bronze Qualifying) and June (Gold Qualifying).