George’s Speech to the Duke of Edinburgh
In 2013, one of our students visited St James’s Palace in London to deliver a speech to the Duke of Edinburgh about his experiences with Releasing Potential taking part in his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. To say that it was an incredible experience is to understate the significance of this young person’s achievement. We are all so proud of George, and wanted to ensure that the legacy of his day at the palace lived on as a testament to his hard work and to the power of expeditioning as a tool for self-growth. Below you can find the full text of George’s speech at the palace:
Hello, my name is George. I come from Fareham in Hampshire, and I completed my Bronze Award this year through Releasing Potential where I did my final year of school.
I’m here to tell you about my DofE experience. Firstly, I should say that if you had told me a year ago that I would be standing here today giving a speech at St James’s Palace I would never have believed you – and neither would anyone who knew me!
I’m a very different person these days. Before I started at Releasing Potential things happened in my home life which made it very hard for me to cope at school.
I felt upset and angry all the time, and handled this by being very quiet and very withdrawn.
When I first came to Releasing Potential at the end of Year 10 things were much easier because of the small groups, the hands on lessons and the outdoor education. I’d always liked the idea of outdoor activities (which weren’t football) but up till then I hadn’t had the chance to try any out. I got to take part every week in activities including climbing, mountain biking, sailing, canoeing and kayaking.
As part of Year 11 at Releasing Potential all students do DofE Bronze – all four of us in my group took part. My volunteering project was renovating an old boat for other young people to use; for my skill I learned to canoe; and for my physical challenge I went to the gym for a weekly fitness programme. The best part, though, was definitely the expedition. We talked about this for weeks, and finally decided to do a canoe journey. We went up Chichester Canal, camped overnight at Cobnor Point, then canoed the return journey the next day. It was hard work, and I remember thinking when we started out that we might not make it all the way. It was exhausting, but we encouraged each other, kept going and we felt really proud of ourselves when it was all over.
We had a laugh putting our tents up, but dinner wasn’t exactly Masterchef! We had a few adventures – there was a scary moment on the paddle back when we had to get past a family of swans. I didn’t fancy getting attacked, but some of the group were determined to paddle through. We managed to survive and made our way home safely in the end. By the time we got back to our base in Portsmouth we had definitely bonded as friends and as a team.
I would advise any young person to consider doing DofE because you can get so much out of it. What my group got out of DofE was confidence in our own abilities, self discipline, better fitness and strength, and good friendships.
I joined Army Cadets at about the same time that I started DofE. This summer I was chosen to take part in the Hampshire Junior Leaders Field Gun Tournament as part of the Surrey ACF Field Gun team. Only 2 cadets in the county were chosen and I was one of them. I have just started a Level 2 Uniformed Services course at college, which is going well so far. I hope to go on to Level 3 next year, and intend to join the army after that.
I still do a bit of voluntary work at Releasing Potential, and I’m considering doing a Silver Award at college.
I’m a much more relaxed and confident person now,and DofE has definitely been an important part of that journey.
I’d like to say I feel extremely honoured to be here today. I know that not many people get this sort of opportunity and I’d like to thank DofE Southern Region for inviting me. With all the practice I’ve put in getting better at public speaking, I’m well on my way to my DofE Silver!
Thank you for listening.George
Releasing Potential Outdoor Education
Unit 7 Kingscroft Court
Charity No: 1097440
Company No: 4622100
Linkenholt Company No: 9984771
023 9247 9762