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Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards for dedicated Otamatea students




8 Aug, 2022


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A long journey requiring commitment, perseverance and a sense of adventure has seen a group of young locals rewarded for their dedication.

After being postponed for a period due to Covid restrictions, seven Otamatea High School (OHS) students were presented their Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) Gold award at a formal ceremony, held at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre at Epsom Girls' Grammar School on June 11, marking the end of five years of service, dedication and hard work.

Governor- General, Her Excellency the Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, spoke at the celebration and the awards were presented by Sir Edmund Hillary’s daughter, Sarah Hillary.

For parent Sandra Brunt, the ceremony was a special occasion, continuing a long tradition for OHS students, and besides the proud moment of her son Cody receiving his Gold Award, another standout was the number of OHS recipients.

“Out of the sixty students, from the top of the North to Taupo, seven were from Otamatea. What an incredible effort for our wee country school,” she says. “This is undoubtedly due to the machine that is Robyn Bruce, who is instrumental in the success of this programme at Otamatea and has been for many years. Many thanks to Robyn, volunteer staff, parents and community members for providing this opportunity for our students.”

DoE coordinator at OHS, Robyn Bruce has been involved with the programme since 2005 as Award Leader of Maungaturoto Independent Centre, and joins the students in their extracurricular activities.

“It is especially pleasing to tramp with a group in the great outdoors, starting from the meetings at school where they plan their tramps, communal dinners and items for their packs,” she says. “The general banter, camaraderie and singing as we hike is very special and it’s good to be away from technology and just soak up the scenery. I love watching them gain new skills, confidence and self-belief.”

Founded by Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1956, the three-level award programme takes up to four years to complete, with participants committing to volunteer service, expeditions, selected personal, social or practical skills and physical activity – i.e. sport, dance or fitness – to achieve a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award.

OHS principal Dirk Smyth, has been part of the DoE group for the last ten years and says he has always been impressed by how much the students learn, the

confidence they gain, the friendships they make and the resilience they obtain through the programme.

Currently, OHS has 78 students working towards their various awards, supported by parents and a number of staff and members of the public, who provide an invaluable wealth of knowledge and years of experience to help the participants succeed Robyn says.

“For the programme to run smoothly and to be so successful, many people generously give up their time on weekends and in their holidays. Ken Hames is a local farmer and chair of the DoE Hillary Award, he’s heavily involved and also offers annual fundraising opportunities through a native tree planting programme on his farm,” she says. “I am especially proud of all the young people I work with as I know all the hours of work that has gone into each one of them completing and receiving their Gold Award. The friendships we have made over the years, not to mention all the stories and laughs from each group, will be with us for life.”


Congratulations to Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award recipients [from left] Fiona Howard, Kieran Fergus, Summer Ford, DoE coordinator Robyn Bruce, Cody Brunt, Billie Le Mesurier-Cowbourne, Natalia Orchard and Cassidy Allen. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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