Peadar Ó Lamhna

When I started my Bronze Award in 2008, little did i think that 8 years later, I'd be standing in Buckingham Palace meeting HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at an event celebrating 60 years of the Award. The Award has, without doubt, been one of the best things I have completed in my life. Some of my closest friends today are those I met through my Community Involvement section when completing my Gold Award in University in Dublin.

When I was chosen by the Gaisce, the Award in Ireland to take part in the International Gold Event in South Korea in 2014 , I met a group of people from all over the world who were all brought together by the one Award founded decades before we were all born. The Award Programme, whilst simple when viewed on paper, is anything but in practice. Every part of the Award is a challenge in itself and involves commitment and dedication on par with training to win Gold in the Olympics! Even though each of us in South Korea had our own individual stories about doing our Award, the common traits of leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving and perseverance were evident in every single Gold Award holder in the room.

As an Award leader now, I try to instil the ethos of the Award into my participants and encourage them to challenge themselves, discover themselves, and of course, have lots of fun along the way.

One of my fondest memories of the day meeting the Duke of Edinburgh was when I told him I was from Ireland. He eagerly asked me if I happened to play hurling, (one of Ireland's national sports) or if I took it up as part my physical activity when doing my Gold Award (sadly not!) The Duke had been presented with a camán (hurley stick) and sliotar (ball) during his historic visit to Ireland a few years previous. I wasn't sure if at 95, he was looking for someone to practice with!

For lifelong skills, lifelong friends and lifelong memories, I say thank you.