Awards and a Diamond Anniversary at the Palace

How did we end up conversing with the Countess of Wessex in Buckingham Palace’s gardens on one of spring’s finest days, having first been inspired by an amazing woman who had rowed three oceans single-handed, simply to raise environmental awareness? You should ask Sara Calvin, whose persistence four years ago persuaded our church to offer the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award as a much-needed service to the community. It was apt that Sara and Roy Calvin were present as proud parents when their daughter Emily received her Gold Award, together with Ellen Jackson and her parents.

Volunteer Aileen James joined me in presenting the Countess with an emblem representing St Mary’s with St Luke’s, especially created by Clive Goodall for the occasion. In exchange, our church received a metal plaque commemorating the 60th (Diamond) Anniversary of the Award Scheme, recognising Bowdon’s contribution as the largest volunteer DofE Centre in the North of England.

Rower Rosalind Savage MBE, National Geographic’s 2010 Adventurer of the Year, shared a lesson in character development with the young people, recounting how hurt she felt at the vitriol from internet trolls who revelled in her initial failure to cross the Pacific Ocean. Learning not to respond in a way that would ‘feed the trolls’, Rosalind instead let her actions speak louder than words as she succeeded on her next attempt, encouraging us all to be persistent and determined in the midst of negativity.

As the Palace gates closed behind us we reflected on what a privilege it was to represent the church and over 60 adult DofE volunteers past and present who have made it possible to offer the Award to our young people.

Will Sudworth, DofE Manager

Emily Calvin (centre left) and Ellen Jackson (centre right) and their parents, with Aileen James and Will Sudworth at the Palace gates