Duke of Edinburgh International Gold award for Emmeline

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A FORMER Inverurie Academy pupil who finished her school years in Cairo has been awarded an International Duke of Edinburgh Gold.

Emmeline Gray received her award at St James’s Palace last month. The 18-year-old, formerly of Pitcaple, is currently studying Oceanography with French at Southampton University.

In order to complete the award Emmeline worked in a charity shop in Cairo, learnt to play the guitar and took up Tai Quan Do. She was also required to go on a group expedition which involved spending five days and four nights away from home with unfamiliar people.

She explained: “I went to New Cairo British International School where they had never done a Gold before. The teachers were very supportive and as they had just started up a group who were doing their Silver, I joined in on one of their expeditions.

“Some of the pupils doing the Silver were in my year at school and since I had just started at the school, it was a good way to get to know them.”

“We climbed Mount Kenya. It was really good but difficult and sometimes you got altitude sickness if you didn’t drink enough water. The views were fantastic – it was all worth while just for the views. It took us four days to go up and three days to come down.

“We camped on the way up and on the last night we were just below the summit at 4200m. We got up at 3am – it had been snowing and it was freezing. After tea and biscuits to warm us up, we climbed to the summit (4,985m) to see the sunrise. It was spectacular.”

Because there was no-one to assess Emmeline at Gold level, she used this expedition as a practise run for her expedition proper, which she did in Wales.

I did a three week outward bound course. We walked and camped and did orienteering, canoeing, abseiling and rock climbing

At the end we were given a map and had to walk 80km in three-and-a-half days.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever done partly because you didn’t know anyone at the start. At the end of it you really didn’t want to leave and I made some really good friends

Doing the awards has really inspired me. I would encourage people to do the award because it is open to everyone aged between 14 and 25. A lot of people already do a sport and are learning a skill so they are half way there already. Volunteering is a lot of fun with opportunities to suit everyone and the expeditions are fantastic. So as long as you are determined, it is possible to achieve it.”