Abergele teenagers trek, sail, windsurf and volunteer to land Duke of Edinburgh awards

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Abergele teenagers have trekked 16 miles, learnt to sail and windsurf plus helped in their local community to land a top award.

The 25 students from Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan are all hoping that their efforts will bag them Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards.

The final part of the challenge for the students, all aged 14 and 15, was a weekend trek along the Clwydian Range.

Working in teams and without adult help, they had to follow a route from Afonwen to Llangynhafal and then Ruthin, via Moel Famau, while carrying all the food and equipment needed to camp out overnight.

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan PE teacher Jon Blackford, who runs the school’s Duke of Edinburgh scheme, said students complete four challenges to gain the bronze award.

He said: “The expedition component requires learners to undertake two expeditions within the Clwydian Range. The first is a practice run with teaching staff accompanying the learners to ensure they are map reading correctly and know what they are doing.

“The second expedition is done on their own with teaching staff meeting them at check points on the way. For both expeditions learners have to be self-sufficient and carry all the food, clothes and equipment they may need for the trek.

“Learners hike around 16 miles over the two days, putting up tents, preparing and cooking their own food and keeping themselves and each other safe.

“All the learners have done exceptionally well when it comes to the expedition element. They managed to complete the trek using map reading skills and working together as a team.”

He added: “The second component for the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award is gaining new skills, with learners taking part in sailing and windsurfing.

“The third section is voluntary work, with learners helping out at after school and summer school clubs, and assisting teaching staff. The fourth is physical activity so students took part in circuit training and other personal fitness sessions.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan students Ellie O’Mahoney, 15, of Kinmel Bay and Jodie Clabrough, 15, of Abergele say taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh expedition as part of their bronze award had been a tough but fun experience.

Ellie said: “It’s been something very different but a really good experience. We did do a practice run with teacher support and that was actually harder. At least, on our own, we knew what to expect.

“The terrain has been challenging and the map reading quite difficult. It certainly helps us work as a team and rely on each other.”

Jodie added: “I think our parents are really proud that we have taken on the challenge. It has been a good experience and well worth doing. We are in groups of six and everyone has a role to play.

“We have to be self-sufficient so have had to pack and carry all our food, clothes and drinks. It means our back-packs are really quite heavy.”

Morgan Jones, 15, of Kinmel Bay agreed the expedition had been a good experience and he was glad he decided to take on the challenge.

He said: “It has certainly taught us to work together and rely on each other. The map reading hasn’t been too bad but the terrain is quite difficult especially when we are carrying heavy back-packs.”

Luke Sanderson of Towyn and Jim Broder of Kinmel Bay, both 15, said the toughest part of the expedition had been the hilly nature of the terrain.

Jim said: “It’s quite a long distance and it has been a bit up and down. We have shared the map reading between the group of six of us and that’s worked well.

“I’m studying geography so that has helped. We are all friends but I have to admit there is a bit of rivalry between the groups which is only natural.”

Luke added: “There are three of us to a tent and I’m hoping we get to sleep as it has been a long day hiking. It’s been good fun though and I know our parents are really proud of us.”

Sean Williams, 15, of Abergele enjoyed the Duke of Edinburgh bronze scheme so much he is intent on tackling the silver and gold award too.

He said: “The practice run we did was actually harder if only because it helped us prepare for the real thing. We all get on really well, share the map reading and know our roles in the team, as we share and rotate responsibilities. The hardest thing is carrying all our food and gear as we have to be self-sufficient.”

Nico Joyce, 15, of Kinmel Bay and Corey Grief, 14, of Rhyl, say they enjoyed the expedition although they found it quite a tough challenge.

Nico said: “The weather hasn’t been brilliant and we had some rain. The main thing is working as a team. I’m really glad I’ve done it and I know our parents are all proud of our achievements.”

Corey added: “The expedition is the toughest part of the scheme but it has been good fun. We are all really good friends and are happy to work together.”

Jeorgia Williams, of Prestatyn, Erin Botham and Rebbeca Whalley, both of Abergele and Hagar Ogago, of Trefnant, all 15, said the challenge had been good but admitted the terrain had been challenging.

Hagar said: “The main thing is to work together as a team. We are all good friends so that makes it easier.”

Erin added: “The practice run was a bit harder because we didn’t know what to expect. But it’s been good working together as a team.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins: “Taking part in this Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme has been a challenge for our learners to take on new skills and to stretch themselves.

“We always encourage our learners to dare to achieve, and I believe this award scheme really shows them that they can overcome challenges personally, and by working as a team.”