Cleckheaton teenager invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

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A Cleckheaton teenager has celebrated achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award during a special event at Buckingham Palace.

Jessica Victoria Dickinson, 18, joined thousands of young people and their loved ones from across the UK for a festival-style celebration, hosted by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh as patron of the DofE charity.

The celebration was one of four taking place over two days at the palace, recognising more than 8,000 young people who have shown “extraordinary perseverance, creativity and resilience” to complete their Gold DofE Award in schools, community organisations, youth groups and workplaces.

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The Buckingham Palace Garden was transformed into a festival-style celebration for young people and their loved ones, with giant deckchairs, bunting and garden games and activities.

Jessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham PalaceJessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham Palace
Jessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham Palace

Attendees had the chance to hear from famous DofE Award holders and other inspirational speakers, such as broadcasters Vick Hope and Clive Myrie – both DofE Award holders themselves – astronaut Tim Peake and TV chef Matt Tebbutt.

They also had the chance to pick up career advice from actors, presenters, authors and campaigners at stages throughout the garden.   

Jessica is currently working as an apprentice at Anchor Housing.

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She did her Gold DofE Award at Little Dear Wood, Mirfield, where she engaged in activities such as arts and crafts and conservation.

Jessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham PalaceJessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham Palace
Jessica at the Gold DofE Celebration event at Buckingham Palace

It was a challenge for her to carry out all of her activities during the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, but she was determined not to let that stop her from achieving the award.

She said: “I was one of the youngest to commence my Gold DofE as I started on the day of my 16th birthday so that I could do it as soon as I possibly could!

“I really enjoyed achieving my Bronze and Silver Awards, so I knew straight away that I wanted to complete my Gold as well.

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“I learnt how to read a map, but also how to take charge and lead a group when it was needed.

Jessica on her DofE expeditionJessica on her DofE expedition
Jessica on her DofE expedition

“I have a passion for being out in the countryside and I loved wild cooking.

“For my expedition, I went to the Outward Bound Trust in Ullswater, where I met lots of new people and made new friends that I am still in touch with today, and we discovered our enjoyment of rock jumping.

“I enjoyed the experience of the Gold Award celebrations, especially being able to explore the beautiful garden at Buckingham Palace and listening to Jodie Ousley who gave a very inspiring talk.”

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Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: "The young people here today have achieved something exceptional, and it is wonderful to see them celebrating together, sharing their experiences and hearing their aspirations for the future.

“DofE is all about proving to yourself just what you are capable of, and the young people here today have showed the world that their potential is limitless.

“I can’t wait to see what they go on to do next.”

A Gold DofE Award programme is a non-competitive personal challenge, open to all young people, which takes a minimum of 12 months to complete.

Young people build their own programmes with activities in five sections – physical, skills, volunteering, a five-day residential and a four-day expedition. 

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