As part of celebrating our 60th Anniversary of the Award in Australia, Duke of Ed Vic are showcasing stories from our Participants about their Award journey and the impact it’s had on their lives. These stories help inspire others and help us encourage more young people to begin their Award.
Each month we run a draw of Participants who are interested to tell their Award story. The participant who wins the draw becomes our Star of the Month. The Star gets their story featured here (as well as on our social handles) and wins a $100 voucher of their choice to spend at Ticketek, Kathmandu or Apple.
Another amazing story from one of our Award Story competition entries. This one is from Liv Tallis who lives in Melbourne and is currently completing her Silver Award. Liv is 15 and is currently doing her Award at Melbourne Girls Grammar School.
Interview with Award Holder – Liv Tallis
How did you get involved with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award?
Last year I left Melbourne Girls to undertake the challenge of Howqua, which is a yearlong program run through Lauriston, situated in the Howqua Hills, near Mansfield. I barely knew anybody and on the very first day my parents dropped me off at the bus where it would take me on a three-hour drive to where I would spend my first night in a house full of 10 girls I didn’t know and was told I would be living with for the rest of the year. One of the very first opportunities we were encouraged to involve ourselves in, was The Duke of Ed. This was not a compulsory opportunity but was suggested by the staff as a way to try something different and embrace every opportunity.
Why did you decide to do The Duke of Ed?
Before my year away in the bush started, I found myself lost and unsure of who I was. I couldn’t pinpoint my passions or how I was helping others in the community. I would listen to the news each week hearing about how people are taking selfless actions to assist communities and making huge differences in people’s lives, by simple acts of kindness. But I struggled to think of times when I might have changed someone’s attitude about life or contributed to a community. With the involvement of The Duke of Ed, I was able to target a specific area I wanted to assist in and made sure I was dedicating time to this task weekly. I’d also heard numerous stories about the friendships you gain in Duke of Ed and decided that this would be a beneficial activity for me as I was new at the school and barely knew anyone.
What does your Duke of Ed Award involve?
As my Skill, I chose sewing because I wanted more independence and less reliance on my parents or someone else to do things for me. I decided that by learning different sewing techniques, it would assist me in applying this knowledge to not only my own clothing but if others at my boarding school needed assistance as well and were struggling.
I chose to use my Library captaincy as volunteer work. This was something completely new for me as I am not an avid reader but did want an opportunity to learn more about this area and how I can apply my knowledge and skills to assist others in my school community. This forced me to start reading more, which in turn, expanded my vocabulary and general knowledge skills.
A student lead initiative was run at my boarding school, where girls would gather in early hours of the morning or just after school, to get involved in fitness and become more active. This was achieved through the completion of regular circuit training. The atmosphere was inspiring and encouraged me to not give up and give things a go. This circuit training was used as my Physical Recreation.
My Adventurous Journey, which was a 3-day hike, was one I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a great opportunity to form new relationships with girls I hadn’t said much to in the past, and to get experience leading the hike and food preparation. I climbed mountains I never thought possible, I pushed through days when I thought my legs couldn’t move any further, I saw views from heights I never dreamed about. All this was achieved through the encouragement of the girls surrounding me.
I decided to repeat the skill I did in my Bronze Award because I felt I could develop it further and learn more complicated techniques.
For the volunteer area, I chose to become a member of the Green team. This is a student-led initiative that strives for school sustainability.
This is something I am extremely passionate about, because I see the ground we stand on being carelessly destroyed by litter and other unsustainable actions. It was an opportunity for me to voice my opinions on this concerning issue and contribute ideas on how I think we can recycle or better use the natural resources of our planet.
As my physical recreation, I chose rowing and my training through to the next season. This was a new sport for me and one I very much enjoy. I saw this an opportunity to further develop my rowing technique and general fitness. During the holidays I went on a hike with my family and I decided to use this experience as my Adventurous Journey. It was completely different when contrasting hiking with my friends during the Bronze Award, and then hiking with my family during the Silver Award. My family enjoys being active outdoors and this experience was successful in strengthening this passion.
I believe that The Duke of Ed provides very important skills that employees search for. When I recently applied for a job, I felt confident in having this achievement documented on my resumé. I was given the job and believe that The Duke of Ed contributed in my success.
What were the most memorable parts of your Award experience?
There was one specific moment when I was standing on top of a mountain looking out onto the mountains I had just climbed, when I realized how lucky and privileged I am to be granted this incredible opportunity and to spend it with the most amazing people who are now in my life forever and will always cherish. These friends are some of the most incredible people I have in my life at the moment. They encourage me to be the best I can and show me that anything is possible if I fight for it. Every day that I fight, I fight because of them. These people I will always appreciate and never stop expressing my gratitude towards them and all they have done for me. I reached goals I thought were too high, I saw views you can’t see from a phone and challenged myself to new levels. I have a new found appreciation for the people I have in my life and the opportunities that are handed to me each day.
What has been the biggest challenge in your life, either before starting the Award or during?
The biggest challenge I have had to face was moving from a school I had only been at for 3 years to a completely new school, where I spent a year away from my familiarities and comforts. I was thrown into this opportunity but embraced it with open arms. Although it was the toughest year I have ever experienced, it was the most amazing year of my life and every day that I am apart from those friendships and experiences, I struggle. But I am constantly reminded of the positive impacts it has had on my life and that those friendships will never fade. It truly has been a once in a lifetime experience and certainly one I will ever forget. After I spent last year away in the high planes, I moved back this year to my old school, where I am completing the rest of my schooling. And again, all completely different. I think the challenge of difference in my life is now something I embrace because it’s inevitable and certainly better than situations others are in.
Has the Award helped you overcome any challenges you have faced?
The Duke of Ed has been extremely beneficial in my life and has assisted me in finding myself and my purpose. I have found my passions, developed new skills and changed my attitude towards life and the opportunities I have been given. I have discovered my love and appreciation for sport and the sense of achievement you feel once completing the strenuous activity. My ability to work in a team or show leadership has been enhanced, as I now feel more confident.
Would you say the Award has had an impact on your life and where you are today? If so, how?
The Duke of Ed has opened up my eyes to a new world and shown me that there are enjoyable alternatives to technology. It has developed my personality and enable me to blossom into someone I am proud to be, someone who shows compassion, integrity, resilience and a deeper understanding of life. It has enhanced personal qualities that I began to lose, and by regaining these attributes I feel that with each passing day I am living life as someone I am proud to be, rather than ashamed of.
What will you take/have you taken away from your Award experience?
After completing 2 levels of The Duke of Ed, a takeaway point for me through all of my experiences is that it has changed the way I view life and the situations that others are in. It has widened the angle of my perception of the world and shown me how much of a better person I can be. I encourage everyone to complete The Duke of Ed , because more than likely you are similar to the person I was before being introduced to this Award, lost and unsure of who you are, and you might discover skills you didn’t realize you had, form new friendships that will last forever or get involved with your local community and think of others rather than yourself.