Intrepid Bedalians complete Bronze DofE Expedition 

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend, the team from the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures returned to run a two-day Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Bronze Expedition from Bedales to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
 
On Saturday morning, 33 Block 3 students walked out of Bedales in five groups for the first leg of the expedition to Duncombe Farm, East Meon. Each group, supported by an assessor from Ridgeline Adventures, had planned a different route to East Meon, which is around 2.5 hours from Bedales in a straight-line distance.
 
Although each of the groups were required to pass the Seven Stars pub on the A272 as part of their journey, the different routes they followed varied their experiences, as one group – who found themselves lost en route, and were forced to backtrack to get back on course – can testify! There were other challenges, too, such as loose soles on one student’s walking boots, which she successfully repaired after improvising with some duct tape. With the first group arriving at Duncombe Farm at 3.30pm, and the last group arriving at 6.30pm, the first day proved that you don’t always need to travel far for an adventure.
 
After camping overnight in East Meon, early morning birdsong at 3.30am provided an unwelcome wake-up call on day two. However, despite the birds’ morning chorus, the start of the day was deferred until 5.30am, when one student decided it was time to start dismantling his tent ready for the second part of his journey – much to the exasperation of his campmates!
 
Once everyone was up for the day, the students continued onward on their expedition to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, ploughing their energy into scaling Butser Hill from the North side. On reaching the top, groups were met by assessors for a debrief, before they triumphantly walked down to meet the school minibuses and parents in the Visitor Centre car park. “How long will it take us to get back to school?” a student asked me as we reached our destination, to which I replied it would take around 10 minutes. “We’ve only travelled 10 minutes?!” was his bewildered response.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the enthusiastic Block 3 students, the exceptional team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Gordon Dale, Clive Burch and Paul Beauchamp. This weekend it is the turn of Block 4 & 5 students as they complete their Silver Practice Expedition, also with Ridgeline Adventures.

Getting creative for DofE Award

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Despite the challenges they have faced due to COVID related restrictions, Bedalians have continued to impress with their efforts in completing the various sections of the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award.
 
For the Volunteering section of the Bronze Award, Block 3 student Florence Pohlschmidt helped out at her mother’s art school in London, tidying and reorganising the studio sculpture, etching and drawing rooms. Florence also volunteered at her former primary school, Heathbrook, in their wildlife garden, clearing, cleaning and reorganising the school’s greenhouse.
 
Inspired by a Wandsworth primary school who contacted her mother’s art school about the possibility of its students painting a rainbow mural to raise the pupils’ spirits after lockdown, Florence took the initiative to ask Heathbrook’s headteacher, Mr Ben Roberts, if she could continue to volunteer at the school by painting a large mural.
 
After Heathbrook gave her permission to paint a mural on the wall of an area known as ‘The Shed’, Florence decided – with the support of her art teacher – to produce a rainbow design in a nod to keyworkers, based on the work of artists Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delaunay.

The mural itself covers four 2.5 x 2.5 metre wall panels, which were prepared with two primers and a light blue base colour, before Florence scaled up her drawing and cut out templates for each section, drawing it on the wall in charcoal ready for painting. The process was supported by volunteers from Longbrook’s PTA.
 
Florence said: “I was so pleased to be able to offer to do this as part of my DofE Award, as it was also a way I could say thank you for everything my primary school has done for me. The final mural looks fantastic and I learnt so much from the project.”

Impressive efforts as DofE participants prepare for expeditions

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Bedales students have been busy working towards their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards in preparation for the expeditions due to take place in Spring 2021.
 
There are four main sections of a DofE programme: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. Bedales students who wish to take part in the expeditions have been asked to complete two sections, provide supporting evidence (an Assessor’s Report is the very minimum needed to pass a section) and for this to be signed off the scheme’s portal, eDofE, by the end of January 2021.
 
Although it is still only November, there has been a fantastic effort from students already. Well done to Kamaya Nelson-Clayton (Block 5), who has been working very hard to complete her Silver Award, volunteering at a youth centre near her home in South London; Issy Robinson (Block 4), who has completed her Bronze Award; Katie Mansbridge (Block 5), who completed lots of hill-walking in the Lakes and on the South Downs during lockdown; Georgie Du Boulay (6.1), who has completed her Silver Award, cycling the South Downs Way and running a social media page for Extinction Rebellion’s Winchester branch as part of her service; and Kit Mayhook-Walker (6.1), completed Couch to 5k during lockdown to go towards his Silver Award.
 
It is tougher than usual for students to volunteer at the moment, but I have been really impressed at the initiative students have been taking to complete this section of their awards. Taragh Melwani and Sacha Weisz Brassay (both 6.1) arranged to volunteer in Bedales’ Outdoor Work department, Thomas Figgins (6.1) volunteers locally at the Petersfield Community Garden, and a number of Block 3 students have been litter-picking.
 
The practice expeditions in Spring are a highlight of the school calendar. Letters with full details of each expedition were sent out to parents of students who have signed up for DofE last week. If your child would like to take part, please let me know as soon as possible, and do encourage them to complete two sections of their award – as a starting point, they may well have completed their Physical section during lockdown, and just need to write it up – and take the next steps to organise an Assessor’s Report, which should be completed by a non-family member.
 
From now until Christmas, I will be available to help if students need any guidance or assistance to complete their sections, and I am looking forward to hearing more about what students did during lockdown. Students can find me in the English Office or teaching in the Orchard Building. If they would like to drop-in at a specific time, I will be available during Badley Time on Mondays, or they can reach me by email at jbevan@bedales.org.uk.

First Duke of Edinburgh expedition of the year

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

When 37 students in Block 5 headed out on their qualifying Silver Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expedition, they might have been extras in John Keats’ seminal poem, To Autumn. Last weekend on the South Downs, the world was rich in “mellow fruitfulness”. They plucked ripe blackberries from hedgerows, scrumpt apples from “moss’d cottage-trees” and in the evenings you might have come across the odd corn on the cob cooking alongside Wayfarer’s meals and pesto pasta.

On Friday morning it took a while to organise routes and check kit at the Triangle Car Park near the Trundle. As classic cars drove past on their way to the Goodwood Revival, assessors made a note of who had packed particularly carefully, and made sure those that needed an extra compass or water bottle were looked after. Routes were checked and starts were then staggered so as to make sure the groups were not tempted to mass together, before they headed off in different directions: east towards Graffam or west to Treyford.

There was no doubt that the participants had the weather was on their side, and navigation was considerably easier than on the practice expedition in the New Forest. That said, the West Sussex terrain presented the groups with different challenges, and many arrived in camp on Friday sore and exhausted from 400 metre climbs past fields of “full-grown lambs” and nosy herds of cows. After a glorious sunset, the full moon lit up the campsites making the night colder than expected and thus the tents were drenched in moisture on Saturday morning.

As the weekend bore on, it was clear that all 37 participants had personal challenges to meet. Some found the walking very tough, others had to manage their frustration with slower members of their group. Some had to share their food and kit, others to manage sore ankles and painful blisters. It was impressive to see groups leaving relatively early on their second day, and even earlier on the third, determined to get the bulk of the walking done in the morning. It was even more impressive to watch groups share out the load, so that all could complete the walk. All did and can hold their head high, having successfully completed this section of their Silver award.

A big thank you must go to Allen, David, Gordon and Rob for bringing wisdom, humour and years of experience to the trip. A thank you also to Duncan Selmes, who joined us from Dunhurst on Saturday afternoon, bringing more DofE expertise and enthusiasm to the team.