Something very exciting happened two weeks ago. My Bronze DofE badge and certificate arrived in the post!
For anyone who hasn’t encountered DofE, it’s the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, done in three levels (Bronze, Silver & Gold) and stereotypically involves two to five days of walking in the rain over inhospitable territory like Dartmoor.
The reason it was particularly exciting was because I completed my Bronze DofE in July 2003. Yes, it has taken fourteen years to receive it. I did it in my last year at school. It was the first time the school had offered it and there were only about ten of us in the first group, which consisted entirely of sixth-formers – four of us in year thirteen and the rest in year twelve. We finished our A Levels in May or June, left school, did our expedition in July and by the time we got round to coming back to the school that we’d left, the badges and certificates were long gone. The teacher who ran DofE had passed them to the Head of Sixth Form, who’d moved offices and… well, we’ve never seen them to this day.
Three weeks ago I was idly roaming the DofE website for no particular reason when I came across a contact form and I thought I’d send them a quick message, starting with “I know this is a long shot and the answer’s going to be no but…” and then explained what had happened. That was on Saturday. On Monday I got a response from the county council to say that yes, they did have records “going back that far” and they’d get my badge and certificate in the post in the next few weeks (and an apology for the fact that the badge and certificate would have changed design in the intervening fourteen years, which I didn’t care about because I never saw the 2003 version). It arrived in the post on Thursday and has subsequently gone on Facebook, Instagram and my Girlguiding badge tab.
I’ve been growling for a while over the lack of any adult equivalent of DofE, which has an age limit of 25 or 26. Last year I started the 60th anniversary Diamond Challenge but didn’t finish it. And this year they’ve introduced the DofE Challenge and the DofE Adventure.
The Adventure is a one or two day hike in the Peak District, for which you have to pay an extortionate entry fee and raise £150/£200 sponsorship respectively. I considered doing the Adventure but I refuse to pay the entry fee on principle and I can’t raise £150!
The Challenge, on the other hand… you choose your own challenge from the categories Extreme, Skill & Physical and you only have to raise £60 sponsorship. One of the challenge examples on the website is a lady baking sixty cakes from sixty cookbooks. I can’t bake to save my life so that would be quite a challenge. I haven’t been out walking since my last SWE/LaSER walking weekend so picking a distance and doing that would be both a challenge and very good for me. I’m going to have a go at canoeing and maybe going further with that would be a good challenge.
Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to doing it so this is my official statement of I’m taking on the DofE Challenge! and you lot have to nag me occasionally to make sure I’m doing it, ok?