London is calling

Why you may ask? Because I’m super cool and I have successfully finished my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award! It took forever but we’re finally there and after years of work I finally got to visit St.James’ palace and have a good old chat with my buddy Prince Edward.

This is something that was really important to me, mainly because of how important it was to my father. He’s always pushed me to grab every opportunity and that’s the message I want to put across with this blog. You can only take one guest to the palace with you, so of course I chose my father to come down to London with me.

If you don’t know what the Duke of Edinburgh award is, it’s an adventurous awards programme with three different levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each one progresses in challenge, length and commitment. To complete each one you need to spend time working on four sections: volunteering, physical, skill and the expedition.

This led me down a variety of different paths and encouraged me to take part in things I wouldn’t normally do. I spent years volunteering in a local charity shop, they support animals both locally and internationally. Whilst I was there we helped dogs from places such as Egypt and Romania, find homes in the UK. It was a fantastic place to work and each week was as rewarding as the last. The shop sells second hand furniture and there’s always a gem hidden in there, so if you’re nearby and want to support them then please do pop in. Visit their site here. P.s. Ask for Jill and say that Charlotte sent you. You’ll be treated like royalty, I promise.

For my skill I attended Fire Cadets. This was one of the greatest schemes I’ve come across in my life. As a young person being able to go to the fire station, wear PPE and learn how to put out fires, was the most fascinating thing ever. The only difference is that there’s no actual fire. Other than that, it’s pretty much the real deal. You get to ride in the fire engine to an official ‘Smokehouse’ – a house designated for practice fires that’s filled with smoke – you get to wear the official breathing apparatus and use the pump from the fire engine. Having to head into a dark house, trapped in a tight mask, carrying a heavy hose, looking for dummies that weigh the same as the average human – it really helps you realise the strength and bravery of those who tackle this job day in day out. It was amazing, if there’s one in your local area I truly recommend you do it.

The actual presentation was amazing, our certificates were handed to us by the sensational soprano, Natalie Rushdie. She was an amazing character and told us a truly fascinating story about her journey to stardom. She was also wearing a beautiful dress, I had major fashion envy. All together I had a fantastic day in London and I’ve had a phenomenal couple of years doing my Duke of Edinburgh award.

Doing things like this seriously enhances your CV and if that’s the only reason you do it then that’s a good enough reason. Doing something as simple as volunteering for an hour a week could be the difference between you getting a job and not getting it. I’ve dealt with that first hand. In interview I can guarantee that the things they will ask me about are not my grades, they are the things I did outside of school. When applying to University I got a conditional offer to Hull, a few weeks later I got a personalised letter from the University saying that after reading my application in more detail they are changing it to an unconditional because of all of the extra-curricular activities. I stood out from the crowd because of this and so can you, you’ve just got to do it.

I hope I do inspire you guys to do something more, because I really want young people to have the best opportunities available to them. Let me know what types of things you guys have done and how others can get involved!

Lots of Love, Lottie xoxo

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