Many years ago, Ms Alison Underwood was approached by three of her Year 8 students who desired more adventurous outdoor activities then the usual available at their school. Her decades of work as a teacher could not have prepared her for the monumental interest she would receive on suggesting The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
What began as a venture for three girls has since grown into 72 students eager to complete the programme. Alison became an Award Leader and the reason for The Duke of Ed’s revival at Danebank Anglican School for Girls in 2007. Known as ‘Undies’ to her students, Alison said it was the bond she shared with the girls which brought about her want to kick-start the Award at the school.
“I started it for them…seeing them achieve and grow as young women has been such a rewarding experience,” Alison said.
Each Individual Inspires One Another
To Alison, The Duke of Ed has not only established lifelong friendships between the girls, but also developed skills which will steer them onto the right direction in life. “Some of them could have gone one way but have turned around since doing The Duke of Ed,” she said.
Alison herself participates in each Adventurous Journey with one of the more memorable ones being an expedition to Uluru. Alongside her 21 Gold Awardees, they explored Uluru and surrounding areas for 12 days which she has highlighted as an unforgettable experience. To Alison the Participants inspire not only each other, but herself too. Time after time, she has found the students energy and desire to push boundaries rub off on her. “I am always learning…I love the bonds with each new group,” she said.
The Duke of Ed is constantly growing at the school and although Alison credits her girls as the driving force of The Duke of Ed in the school with their assemblies and presentations, it is Alison’s passion which has kept her Participants motivated and striving to achieve more in life.
It is because of Volunteers like Alison Underwood that The Duke of Ed is not simply a concept, but a reality which impacts Australian youth through such incredible experiences.