Adventurous Wigan teen sets gold standard

Ben Martin, Duke of Edinburgh gold award winner
Ben Martin, Duke of Edinburgh gold award winner

A sixth-form student from Wigan has earned the coveted Gold standard Duke Of Edinburgh award.

Ben Martin, who studies at the Deanery Sixth-Form, completed a number of challenging and time-consuming tasks on his way to reaching his goal.

And he will now be presented with his award on July 5 by Prince Edward at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

The DoE awards have three tiers - bronze, silver and gold, with each one consisting of a skill, physical challenge and volunteering task that have to be completed to earn each award.

Some of the skills Ben has learned since embarking on the scheme when he was in year 10 include: taekwondo, canoeing, life skills and cooking and even learning to drive.

In addition, he has spent time volunteering to complete youth work with the scouts and gone on a number of expeditions that are necessary to earn each award.

Ben has spent four nights walking along the Scottish borders and also spent three days and two nights camping in the Lake District, where he had to be completely self-sufficient, carrying all of the materials he needed to use, with no luxuries or shopping allowed.

As part of the Gold award, participants have to complete a week-long residential challenge. And for this, Ben worked as a crew member on a tall ship.

The 17-year-old from Billinge said: “It’s been a really good experience, it was difficult but worth it.

“I really enjoyed the residential: it was a good experience and I got to meet a lot of great people. It’s hard work and takes time but I’d definitely recommend it.”

When asked about his future regarding his achievement, he said: “I’ve been asked to go back on the tall ships as a volunteer, so I may take them up on that offer in the future.”

Katherine Boardman, who has been in charge of the DoE scheme at the Deanery for four years, said: “I’m extremely proud of him, it’s an amazing award.

“It’s hard to achieve, you’re out of your comfort zone and it’s very challenging. It really makes you stand out and gives you something to talk about.”

“We recently sent out 28 Year Nine pupils on an expedition to Rivington and used a firm called AOA to train them. It was a success as some of them have never camped previously, they were taught basic skills like pitching a tent and had to be totally self-sufficient. It was a great experience.”

Ms Boardman said she was delighted that the school had adopted the Duke of Edinburgh scheme as it was challenging students and teaching them new skills in all sorts of areas beyond the classroom and so helping to produce more rounded individuals.

DoE awards are also handy to have on a CV, she added.