28 February 2018
BSc (Hons) Agri-food Marketing with Business Studies student Eleanor Brook, was invited to volunteer at St James’s Palace as a VIP host after completing her Gold Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award.
Eleanor, 20, from Lincolnshire said: “Volunteering at St James’s Palace was an incredible experience. It made me realise the dedication so many people share towards the DofE Award.
“I completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold awards while studying at Caistor Grammar School, with expeditions in the Lincolnshire Wolds, Peak District and Lake District.
“I was then invited to a Gold Award presentation (GAP) in the Buckingham Palace Gardens, alongside my brother, Alistair, meaning both our parents could attend as our guests. It was a fantastic event and a great way to end my DofE experience - or so I thought.
“To my surprise, following the completion of a feedback survey, I was invited to undertake the role of a VIP host for a presentation day at St James’s Palace in January.
“My task was to give tours, around St James’s Palace, to several VIP guests, who had been involved with the DofE for many years, leading groups across Europe. At the start I felt incredibly nervous, however I was soon at ease talking to the VIPs as we shared our experiences.
“For the morning ceremony I was seated in the Queen Anne room, where the guest speaker was BBC News presenter Graham Satchell. He described the mental and physical challenges of live news reporting in a fascinating talk.
“I moved to the Throne Room in the afternoon, where Countryfile’s John Craven was the guest speaker. I asked about the development of the Countryfile Live Show, and even managed to get his autograph.
“Over the course of the day, around 600 young people greeted the Earl of Wessex and received their Gold Award Certificates from the room’s celebrity presenter.
“During the day I realised how lucky I am to be involved with such a brilliant organisation. I cannot speak highly enough of the DofE Award, and the opportunities it has given me.
“I’ve since been to the DofE Head Office in Windsor to help send out 8000 GAP invitations for Buckingham Palace ceremonies this year. I’m also a DofE Direct Champion, aiming to promote the award to 18 – 23 year olds.”
For more information, visit the DofE Direct website.