Five former NCC students have been presented with their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards at a special palace celebration.

Elspeth Adams, Holly Matthewman, Rachel Paiton, Kate Whitaker and Aamir Shah were invited down to St James’ Palace in London to receive their Awards from Prince Edward in recognition of their commitment, dedication and hard work.

The Gold Award requires each student to complete 12 months of volunteering, a physical  and skills section; one of 12 months and the other section for six months; an expedition of four days and three nights and a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for five days and four nights.

The palace reception was the perfect opportunity to get dressed up and they enjoyed catching up with each other and remembering their shared Duke of Edinburgh experiences and memories.

The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award is just one of a vast range of enrichment opportunities offered to students at NCC, and is offered through a partnership with Burnley FC in the Community. The College’s enrichment programme has been revamped for the new academic year beginning in September.

Holly, who is now in her second year at the University of Bath studying Psychology, is preparing to go to Boston in the USA for her placement year.

She said: “I found the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award a really good experience and I have made lifelong friends through it. For my residential, I went out to India and taught English and Maths which I really enjoyed and I have gone back since then and have done the same thing in Thailand as well.

“Employers really value the Duke of Edinburgh Award as well because the skills you learn on it are so well rounded.”

Rachel, who studied BTEC Art and Design at NCC, is now at the University of Huddersfield doing Graphic Design.

She said: “I did my volunteering in a local play group in Nelson and that was really rewarding. I found the expedition improved my teamworking skills, map reading skills, my physical fitness and self-confidence as I really proved to myself that I can do it.”

Aamir, who completed his expedition separately from the others in Cumbria, is currently doing a Sociology degree at the University of Central Lancashire.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh is a very worthwhile programme as it showed me that there is more to life than just academic work, there is also all sorts of extra-curricular activities that you can do.”

Elspeth and Kate are both at the University of York studying Physics and English Literature respectively. They were also full of praise for the Duke of Edinburgh programme and for their experience at NCC generally.

Elspeth said: “I volunteered as a sports coordinator with activities in College and did my residential up in Scotland doing the NCS which was amazing. I loved the whole experience.

“I’m so glad I went to NCC, I loved it and the teaching was great. The teachers are so supportive and I found the workshops they put on really helped me.”

And Kate said: “I had a brilliant time doing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. The expedition in the Peak District was so physically and mentally demanding but it was so good and I’m a stronger person for doing it.

“The Duke of Edinburgh is so flexible as well. I did my skill section with Burnley Youth Theatre and my volunteering in a primary school in Colne but you can do anything really.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my two years at NCC and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. I made some really good friends there and I genuinely think College made me as a person.”

Paul France, Burnley FC in the Community’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said: “It was a pleasure to be invited down to St James’ Palace to witness the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, present the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards. It was a fantastic event, and one I’m sure the students will remember for a long time. They are such an engaging group of young adults and were an absolute credit to Nelson and Colne College.”

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