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Pure Gold! 15 Ashford School students take on their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Expedition in Arnhem

Date Posted: Thursday 08 September 2022

Led by Staff Sergeant Instruction for CCF and Leader of D of E, 15 Ashford School students travelled to The Netherlands this August to embark on their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition.  Steering away from the norm, the expedition was on bike, and the students took on the challenge of cycling a staggering 245 kilometers, on average, over their 4 day expedition.  As if this wasn’t hard enough on it’s own, temperatures soared to over 30 degrees during the week resulting in the groups having to take extra precautions to avoid heat stroke and exhaustion.

The expedition was preceded by two days of intense training in Arnhem where students practiced cycling their Dutch Gazelle bikes (not the expected Mountain bikes!) and had to prove their cycling proficiency and understanding of local cycle route rules and safety.  In three groups of five, they had to plan routes that met the grueling distance required, as well as ensure they visited key landmarks to help them with their Expedition Aim, which was to research the question, “Did Operation Market Garden work?”.   This important historic event was researched thoroughly by the students and their routes included visiting the John Frost Bridge, Loernen, Ede, Wolfheze and Driel.

The three Assessors tracked the groups and ensured that all were competent in map reading and navigation as well as having the adequate camping skills required, such as erecting tents and cooking at least one hot meal a day.  Teamwork was essential and the groups often shared out responsibilities to ensure all contributed.  Feedback from the assessors was extremely positive and it was commented that this group of students had shown the most maturity ever witnessed on a D of E expedition.

On completing their four-day expedition, the groups gathered at Oosterbeek Church where Ashford School’s chaplain, Reverend Bellamy joined them to share the church’s significant role in World War II.  The students then made their way to the War Cemetery where Reverend Bellamy led a very poignant service.  Despite their tiredness and the heat, the students paid respect to the thousands of soldiers who had lost their lives in Arnhem, with James and Immy reading prayers, and Patrick laying a wreath.

Simon Burke commented:

“All students on this trip were amazing.  They showed commitment and determination throughout and were tremendous advocates for Ashford School.  They not only successfully completed their challenge, they also had the wonderful opportunity to learn about what happened in Arnhem during the 2nd World War”. 

He continued:

“I would like to thank all those who made this trip possible.  The Duke of Edinburgh Award relies heavily on volunteers, and without volunteers to drive, assess and supervise, we would not be able to offer this.  If any parents are interested in becoming a DofE Assessor, please contact me.”