Royal first for local pupils

L to R: Megan McCulloch, Hamza Zubair, Emma Laidlaw, DofE Leader Hamish Duncan, Caitlin Portlock, Michael Flynn and Claire Winthrop

L to R: Megan McCulloch, Hamza Zubair, Emma Laidlaw, DofE Leader Hamish Duncan, Caitlin Portlock, Michael Flynn and Claire Winthrop

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Last week five youngsters became the first pupils from Dalkeith High School to receive their Gold Awards at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

They received their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards from champion Midlothian runner Freya Ross, after sharing their experiences with patron of the award - HRH The Duke of Edinburgh himself.

During the award presentation, HRH congratulated the group from Dalkeith High School on their successes and heard about their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE)journeys, which took them over a year of hard work and dedication.

Hamish Duncan, the DofE leader for Dalkeith High, attended the presentation to see the group receive their awards, he said: “I’m so proud to see the Dalkeith High participants receive their Gold Awards at the Palace.

“It’s a real mix of characters and backgrounds at Dalkeith High School and that is what makes the group really strong. They’ve all gained a huge amount from it.”

Speaking about her DofE experience, pupil Megan McCulloch said: “I started my Duke of Edinburgh Award because I liked the idea of something motivating you to take up a new activity.

“When it comes to putting myself out there I’m a nervous person but it made me go out volunteering, join new sports groups and meet new people.

“It’s definitely helped me show my personality and realise what I am good and at be confident in my abilities instead of being reserved and quiet.”

The Midlothian cabinet member for education, Councillor Bob Constable (SNP) said: “The pupils are a fantastic advert for what can be achieved with grit, determination, creative thinking and a fantastic, can-do attitude.

“These skills are all great ones to have when you are just starting out on your journey as a young adult.

“Well done to everyone involved. Midlothian is proud of all our Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holders.”

Those who achieve a Gold DofE Award volunteer, learn a skill, get fit, take part in a week long residential and plan and undertake an expedition in wild country.

The DofE programmes enable any young person, aged 14-24, to develop key skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment and team working.