ao.com employee achieves a DofE first

ao.com employee achieves a DofE first


ao.com employee, Melissa Dempsey, 23, has become the first ever participant from a business running The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) to complete the Expedition section using a wheelchair, after summiting Mam Tor – a 1,695ft view point in Edale.

Melissa, who has cerebral palsy, completed the expedition on 29th April – 1st May, alongside 13 other ao.com employees, as part of their 18 month programme.

The call centre worker was able to complete the challenge thanks to her new Mountain Trike – an innovative all-terrain wheelchair that allows the user to control the wheels with levers. She also completed part of the ascend without the Trike, using her hands and arms to pull her way up the hill, and climb over styles with the help of the team.

Speaking about the expedition, Melissa said: “When I was told what I was about to do, I did have my doubts, especially when I saw the hill, but it is all down to mind over matter. It was a great achievement for me, especially with having cerebral palsy, but make no mistake my team were as much help as the wheelchair. They helped me overcome physical and mental boundaries; they have all inspired me to push myself in everything I do. If you have self-belief and a great group of people supporting you, you can do anything, and I believe I’m living proof of that.”

ao.com funds the DofE Business programme for young adults in the company, to help promote team work and build healthy relationships across departments, as well as teaching them skills to build their confidence.

Chris Havard, the DofE Leader at ao.com, explained: “The whole group set a great example to the entire business of how dedication and perseverance help to overcome obstacles. It was inspiring watching them pull together as a team.”

Congratulating the team, Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of the DofE, concluded: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see the first group of DofE participants from ao.com complete the Expedition section of their Gold Award through our DofE Business programme. A special mention to Mel who reached the summit of Mam Tor with the additional challenge of completing it in her wheelchair. It’s a great example that the DofE is an Award for all and I look forward to seeing the skills picked up on Expedition translate back in the ao.com offices and warehouse, providing benefits to the whole business.”

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