Cora Meechan: Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards
Forres Open Award Centre
"I completed my Bronze DofE Award through my school. A lot of people do their DofE because it’s something to put on your CV and that appealed to me as well, but as soon as you start it you realise it’s bigger than that. You gain a lot more than just a line on your CV by doing your DofE.
I had a lot of fun doing my Bronze Award. I really enjoyed meeting new people and going out and camping. Learning how to go out and do that kind of thing for myself was really interesting for me and something I wanted in my life, so I decided to do progress on to my Silver Award. The teachers at the school who were running the DofE left after I completed my Bronze Award, so I moved to the local Open Award Centre to do my Silver and Gold.
Doing my DofE made me more confident in speaking to new people. Finding a volunteering activity was scary at first and made me anxious. I had never made phone calls and sent emails to strangers asking them to support me before. After doing it for my Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards I got used to it and the practice and confidence I gained has been really useful to me now that I’m looking for jobs.
My organisation skills also improved as I did my DofE Awards. The expedition in particular really helped me with organisation because I had to pack my rucksack and make sure I didn’t miss anything. I also had to plan for every eventuality. All of that improved my skills.
It was the same with teamwork. As an expedition group we had to communicate and find out who was taking things like the First Aid kit so that we didn’t double up. We tried to make the process as easy as possible for the team and it worked. The practice expedition gave us the chance to get to know each other better and find out how we worked together. This was really important when I got to my Gold expedition and was away for longer. I really enjoyed my Gold qualifying expedition because I was aware of how everyone worked in the team.
My residential was amazing. I did a conservation week with the National Trust for Scotland. We were a group of 10 and I got to meet people from France and Italy and all over. Before the Residential I hadn’t really met anyone from other countries, so it really broadened my horizons to spend the week with them.
By taking part in the DofE Award I was able to develop as a person and build my skills. It also helped my Mum too. I didn’t notice then how much of an impact it had on her, but by becoming more organised and confident it helped my Mum to see how much I could do on my own.
I’m an only child, so my Mum had to learn how to help me grow up. She was learning as much as I was learning. I think she was nervous because she hadn’t gone through that stage of growing up with anyone else. She saw how much I grew from my Bronze to Silver and then to Gold. As I went through each level she knew I was more prepared and that she could trust me more.
Not long after I went on my Bronze expedition I had a week away from home for school. She said if I hadn’t done my DofE then she would have wanted to check my suitcase and make sure I had packed everything. She trusted me more after I did my expedition because she knew I was more prepared.
My Mum used to check that I had done all my homework and that I knew what my deadlines were, but me doing my DofE made her see I knew what was going on and that I could handle it on my own. It gave me a bit more freedom and helped her see what I was capable of.
Doing my DofE, especially my Physical section, led me to my choice of course at university – sport and exercise at Abertay. I would like to be a PE teacher and once I am working in a school I would really like to be a DofE Leader. My Leaders were passionate about DofE and helping me through it and that really made an impression on me. I’d like to be able to do the same for my students.”
“My immediate reaction to Cora wanting to do her DofE was ‘oh no, not something else to try and fit in.’ Because Cora is an only child and we live in the country we always encouraged her to get involved with as many activities and meet as many new people as she could. This was the first time she had come to us with something she wanted to get involved in instead of us suggesting it to her. Her Dad and I didn’t know what was involved and we were initially concerned about her safety, but because she was so enthusiastic about getting involved we decided to run with it and see what we could do to support her.
Taking part in her DofE Awards helped Cora develop in her own self. She became more capable of navigating difficult situations. She sat her first exams in fourth year and she seemed confident on the surface, but I could tell she was very worried about them. We were able to speak about how she was feeling and draw on her DofE experience and what she had achieved to boost her confidence. Getting out in the outdoors and doing her physical section also really helped her to manage her stress. It was excellent for her to have physical activity to help with the exam nerves.
By taking part in the DofE Cora has become much more independent and capable of managing difficult situations and her emotions. Before taking part she would not have asked for help, but now she is mature enough to know when she needs help and how to ask for it. By taking part in her expeditions she had to learn to communicate with all her team mates and pull together for the success of the team. Her experience with DofE has helped us have better communication as a family.
Cora’s DofE experience has shown us as parents that she is responsible and she will manage just fine. Yes, there will be some hard times, but we’re confident she has the ability to get through any difficulties. Her taking part in, and achieving, her DofE Awards has helped us feel more confident about her going off to university and living away from home. She can draw on her DofE experiences to make life choices and get through.
On a personal level, Cora taking part in DofE made me want to better myself. Cora needed support for her Volunteering section because they needed a parent to support the local cheerleading group where she was coaching. I have experienced anxiety and so this was a huge challenge for me to take on the responsibility of being the parent support for the group. To help her complete her Award I had to push myself beyond what I thought I was able to do. It has been a very positive experience for us both.”