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A group of leaders in the mountains, holding maps

Duke of Edinburgh with Tom McCormick

Blog Published on 11 Oct 2023

Last time, we heard from David, who is about to start training on Expedition and Outdoor Leadership. Tom, who has been training on this course for a number of years, also talks about his experience with Duke of Ed.

What motivated you to get involved in leading DofE?
"I’ve always regretted not having had the opportunity to take part in DofE as a young person but being involved as a leader is the next best thing. Fellow officer Angus and I realised the need in company section, did the training, bought the kit, and have supervised bronze, silver and gold expeditions in India, Europe and the British Isles for over 20 years. I have very happy memories of every expedition, and every one was different. It’s one of the best things I ever did."

Best mountain ever climbed.
"There is no better way to enjoy the outdoors than climbing and tracking. My highest climb was in Nepal to 6500m and that was a great challenge. I spent 6 weeks climbing and tracking in Northern India as a mountain leader with The British Schools Exploring Society, climbed and tracked in the High Atlas Mountains and have stood on top of Mt Blanc in Chamonix France. Annually I make my way to the Cairngorms for winter tracking and munroe bagging. I have met some brilliant people and have been blown away with the beauty of God’s creation. To name my best mountain is a challenge but it must be Slieve Bernagh in the Mournes for it was there having lunch on a ledge with one of my young BB Boys that a discussion took place about faith. The following week Peter gave his life to the Lord at a KGVI course. God’s timing is wonderful."

Funniest memory of DofE
"I think the funniest moment was when Ben our Company Section boy with Downs Syndrome who was on silver expedition pushed me into a river. We still laugh about it ten years later and he mentions the incident to me frequently. What a blessing it has been to have Ben in the company and now as a leader."

Why would you encourage young people to do DofE?
"I could talk about decision making, striving to reach goals, dedication and all the other words that work for DofE, but it’s friendships made, and experiences had from the silly little incidents to watching the stars at night sitting on top of a mountain underneath a cloudless sky."

Which part of DofE did you learn most from.
"I’m an outdoor person, I love sleeping in a tent listening to the rain or the sound of a nearby stream. It’s there on the hill that I really get to know the young people and it’s there that I have my best conversations and share from all our experiences and hopefully inspire the next generation of hill walkers."

 Why do you feel DofE benefits young people?
"Every young person is different. It’s not about the badge or the certificate it’s about the interaction of young men and woman working together to make things work, keeping going and picking up lifelong learning on the way, making friends for life and being able to say they finished the race and joined the thousands of young people who successfully completed the award."

Thank you to Tom for sharing with us about his experience with DofE.


Kate Thompson, Director of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award says,

“The DofE and BBNI have worked together over many years with lots of BB members earning their Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards often alongside their BB President’s and Queen’s badges.

To do their DofE, young people aged 14-24 choose their own activities to complete Physical, Skills and Volunteering sections, an Expedition and a Residential at Gold level. They have fun, discover new passions, give back to their communities, grow in resilience and self-belief, and develop vital skills employers value – while working towards a widely recognised and respected award.

We know that the DofE can be truly life-changing for young people – particularly those from marginalised backgrounds – and we really appreciate all that BB do to give young people these opportunities.

For those that want to continue their journey beyond their Award, our Young Leaders’ programme helps Award recipients on their journey to leadership. There are lots of opportunities - helping out in your own BB company, supporting other young people to achieve their Awards or becoming an Expedition Supervisor and/or Assessor. If you would like any further information just get in touch with our Operations Officer for BBNI, Mark Beattie.”

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