A Cadet from 1507 (Chester-Le-Street) Squadron has achieved his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award through the Air Cadets!

Flight Sergeant Rachel Vincent, 19, was awarded the prestigious Gold D of E badge having completed all 5 sections of her award this summer, culminating in a challenging 4-day self-sufficient expedition in the Cheviot Hills.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was founded in 1956, and is widely recognised as the world’s leading achievement award for young people. A survey of major employers, commissioned by the United Learning Trust, found that a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the most highly valued experience when selecting employees.

The Award consists of 5 Sections: Volunteering, Physical, Skill, Expedition and Residential. For her volunteering section, Rachel volunteered with the Chester-Le-Street Brownies for approximately a year where she helped organise activities on a regular basis resulting in some of the girls gaining extra badges to go on their uniform ; she spent a year improving her cycling skills so that she could complete Coast to Coast route from Whitehaven to Sunderland in 3 days for her Physical section which she achieved; for the Skills section she aspired to improve her baking skills, to the delight of her family! However, it was her Residential Section where she has truly went above and beyond by flying over to Kumi, Uganda to help the local people. Whilst there she helped to construct a classroom at a primary school, she renovated classrooms at two further schools as well, she had a classroom “experience” helping to teach 100 pupils for an afternoon, she visited a school for deaf children spending time in the classroom and organising sports activity for them, she worked with local aid workers to build a traditional home in a rural community, she helped to run a games and drama afternoon at a Child Development Centre, she visited children at the COHAD orphanage and she spent time with patients at Kumi Health Centre.  Richard Bacon, Country Manager from Mission Direct, said, “Rachel was a great member of the team and joined in all activities with energy and enthusiasm. She showed initiative in organising activities and worked well with the other members of the team. It would be great to see Rachel back in Kumi sometime possibly as part of a staff team.”

Rachel said, “I loved my D of E experience; full of adventure, challenge and lots of memories to smile back on. It spurred me to try new things and meet new people, and I never thought it would lead me to places like Uganda or the kitchen! Through the award, I completed piano exams, volunteered with Brownies, cycled the Coast to Coast and went on expeditions with the funniest group of people. I learnt the art of organisation, perseverance, communication and the importance of Haribo on hikes; lessons I hope to carry with me in the future. It’s been an honour to take part in such an amazing award and I would encourage anyone else to participate too!”

Flight Lieutenant Mathew Burton, Squadron Commander of 1507 Squadron, said, “Flight Sergeant Vincent should be extremely proud for what she has achieved. She has achieved what few do in their teenage years and is a credit to the Squadron. She is the second cadet from 1507 Squadron within a few months to have achieved this award which is a tremendous achievement and is to the credit of the cadets completing the award but also Civilian Instructor Ian Bowles, the Squadron Duke of Edinburgh Officer, who tirelessly supports all my cadets through the award. This award will stand Flight Sergeant Vincent in good stead with future careers as it shows that she can continue going even when times get tough! The Air Training Corps offers this opportunity to all cadets and1507 Squadron are continually recruiting new cadets aged between 12 (year 8) and 16 so please contact us on 0191 3890949 for more information”

Rachel will now be entitled to wear the Gold DofE badge on her Air Cadet uniform.