A DOCTOR who was raised in Morpeth will receive her long-awaited prestigious national award in grand surroundings next month.
Sarah Graham will be going to St James’s Palace in London to be presented with her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.
She started the scheme – where youngsters do a range of activities and projects to achieve Bronze, Silver and/or Gold levels – in Year 9 at King Edward VI School.
By the time she left, she had completed the first two and started the Gold Award.
There are five sections that participants need to do to get the top accolade – Volunteering, Physical, Skill, Expedition and Residential.
Dr Graham volunteered at a hospice and charity shop, did a work experience placement in France (Residential) and learned to drive when she was 17 (Skill).
The expedition took place in September 2004 at Glencoe in Scotland.
“It was a tough four days and involved plenty of hard work, especially as we always had to carry all the supplies and equipment we had brought with us,” she said.
“But we were lucky that it never rained, so we were actually able to enjoy some of the less demanding treks.”
Dr Graham went to Leeds University to study medicine and she also achieved a sports science degree during her six years of study.
The 24-year-old now works at a hospital in the Yorkshire city.
Towards the end of her studies, she realised the Physical section needed to be completed and so she put forward competing in races for Morpeth Harriers – she continues to run for the club – and her role as captain of the university’s cross country club.
Of getting the award, she said: “I’m pleased to have now reached Gold and I’m looking forward to receiving it at St James’s Palace.
“The Duke of Edinburgh is a really good scheme. You get to do a range of different activities which improve your confidence and people skills and you pick up useful things such as map reading and planning ahead. It also makes you a bit tougher.”
Her father John Graham, who lives in Loansdean, is very proud of her achievements – particularly as he has been involved in running the scheme locally for 35 years and was a parent volunteer leader for it at KEVI for 15 years.
“It’s great to see all the kids who take part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme work their way to the Gold Award, but when it’s one of your own, that does make it extra special,” he said.