story 1 June 2019

Raphael’s “life changed” after experiencing the countryside for the first time on his DofE expedition

Raphael grew up in Brixton. He suffered from Polio so has used crutches since age 12. He was encouraged to join the Army Cadet Force at Archbishop Tenison School, and as a result started his DofE.

For Raphael his DofE/ACF programme meant music and expeditions. He played the clarinet with the ACF Band, through his Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. One key experience was his very first practice expedition on Dartmoor. It was the first time he had been out in the English countryside; the first time he and his friends had to cook for themselves; the first time he slept in a tent, and could see the stars properly. “It changed my life”, he explains. “I was fascinated and determined to find out more.”

In due course this led Raphael to a degree in Astrophysics & Cosmology at Lancaster University.

“The ACF and the DofE gave me the confidence and determination to prove that I could do everything my friends could do, and more.”

While at Lancaster he joined and then led their Pentecostal Gospel Choir. Raphael is also a singer and songwriter, and has been developing this since his graduation, while working as a Maths and Physics tutor.

Raphael is an Ambassador for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; “It has meant a great deal to be amongst those few who have completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. For me personally I think it means I have successfully demonstrated that disability does not mean inability and that the Charity has recognised this.

I have really developed a sense that I am not alone in all the work that I have done with the DofE. Even though Award holders are from all walks of life and various different backgrounds, we have a collective shared experience in the DofE which means we can boast of having an extended family across the world. I think that is a rather profound and happy thought we can all keep with us.”

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