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Moray pupils celebrate award milestone

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School pupils across Moray are joining forces to commemorate the 60th anniversary of an adventure scheme which began life in the region.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme is the brainchild of former Gordonstoun principal Kurt Hahn and was pioneered at Elgin Academy.

To celebrate its jubilee year, 28 secondary school pupils will be chosen to embark on a quest from Balmoral to Gordonstoun.

The challenge involves four legs, spread across Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1.

The first phase will see school pupils, scouts and cadets set off from the Aberdeenshire royal residence on mountain bikes through the Cairngorms to Tomintoul.

Participants will then trek to a camp near Deskie, by Ballindalloch and cycle along the Speyside Way to Aberlour.

The youngsters will then hop aboard Canadian canoes to paddle down the River Spey to Fochabers.

The venture will conclude with a walk along the Moray coastline from Fochabers to Gordonstoun, where a party will be held.

Yesterday, the head of the exclusive private school returned to the scheme’s spiritual home to detail the anniversary expedition to a group of excited academy pupils.

Gordonstoun principal Simon Reid said: “The origins of the Duke of Edinburgh award lie with Elgin Academy, and Gordonstoun’s first principal.

“Mr Hahn was interested in making sure there was more to education than just subjects like maths, physics and English.

“I am quite buzzed, and quite moved, by the idea that something that so massive started in this corner of the north-east of Scotland.”

The awards programme was first known as the Moray Badge when it originated in 1936, and 20 years later the Duke of Edinburgh elected to attach his name to it.

Since then it has expanded to become a UK-wide charity and global organisation encompassing 140 countries and 2million participants.

Elgin Academy headmaster David Barnett added: “This is very special for us as a school.

“It’s an honour for us to be involved, and a very exciting prospect for pupils.”

The challenge is open to third year pupils who are currently working to secure their bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.

It is expected only one or two pupils from each secondary will be able to take part in the expedition.

Children can apply online at www.moray.gov.uk/dofemoraynews

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