Band of intrepid trekkers become first students in Biggleswade school’s history to bag Duke of Edinburgh success

Kathryn Hall (Independent DofE Assessor), Wendy Chantrell (Ivel Valley PE teacher and DofE Leader),

Kathryn Hall (Independent DofE Assessor), Wendy Chantrell (Ivel Valley PE teacher and DofE Leader), Lynn Hawkins (Ivel Valley teacher and DofE Countryside Leader), and Ivel Valley students Natasha Loft, Eugeneio Allfieri, Tristan Chambers, and Bethany Smith. - Credit: Archant

A band of intrepid trekkers have become the first students in Ivel Valley School’s history to win Duke of Edinburgh bronze awards.

The students – who are aged between 16 and 18 and have a range of learning disabilities – took part in an overnight hike and camping trip last week, and passed the gruelling expedition section of the youth achievement award scheme.

Natasha Loft – who was accompanied by her friend Bethany Smith – Eugeneio Allfieri, Tristan Chambers and Jordon Young took on the challenge which saw the hardy crew walked 15km from the school to Henlow Bridge Lakes, camping out for the night and making the return trip the next day.

Independent Duke of Edinburgh assessor Kathryn Hall said: “This wasn’t an ‘easier’ version of the expedition – it doesn’t work like that.

“What struck me was how well they worked as a team, helping each other all the way.

“They did amazingly well and I was very pleased to tell them they had passed.”

In addition to the expedition, the students have been completing activities over the past two years including decorating and gardening at the school lodge house, learning how to play golf and helping younger Ivel Valley nursery pupils.

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“These are our first students ever to take part in the award, and we’re immensely proud of both of them,” said deputy head Audrey Webb.

Aaron Dilello missed the expedition due to illness, but will be taking on the challenge at a later date.