Air Cadets from across the Durham/Northumberland Wing area recently completed the expedition for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award.
Most of the young people, who were drawn from squadrons as far apart geographically as Morpeth and Newton Aycliffe, had already completed the Bronze and Silver levels of the award, so this was the culmination of their DofE experience.
The 18 cadets and staff – aged from 16 to 23 – spent four days in Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills. The teams of cadets completed a journey on foot that they had planned themselves, taking them from Wooler down to Alwinton.
They were entirely self-sufficient throughout the expedition, carrying all their own equipment and food, camping out in tents and even collecting and purifying their drinking water en route.
Flight Lieutenant Liz Green, the Wing’s DofE award officer and expedition co-ordinator, said: “This is one of the toughest challenges that our young people face in their cadet career.
“As well as the physicality of the venture, they have to be resilient in the face of difficult terrain and unpredictable weather, and they must learn to work as a team and accept each other’s differences if they are to complete the expedition successfully.
“The life skills they learn as part of this experience will stand them in good stead as they move on to the challenges of the workplace or learning to look after themselves at university.”
The two Morpeth Squadron members on the expedition, Katie Harrison and Lydia Wendt, were in a team together. This team also included Ashington Squadron members Ethan Howard and Adam Armstrong.
Officer Commanding Durham/Northumberland Wing, Wing Commander Dave Harris, said: “The Gold DofE Award is one of the most prestigious achievements that we can offer our cadets and for 18 of our young people to complete this section of their award together is outstanding. They should be extremely proud of their success.”
The cadets, once they have completed all five sections of the Gold Award, will travel to St James’s Palace in London to be presented with their awards.
The volunteering aspect of the DofE involves helping individuals and/or organisations and the physical one covers sports and fitness activities.
The other two sections are skills (it includes performance arts, creative arts, media and communication, life skills and science and technology) and residential (which the DofE describes as ‘spending five days and four nights taking part in a shared, worthwhile activity with people you have never met before’).