Gold Duke of Ed success for Ballycastle

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An incredible achievement was celebrated by four former Ballycastle High School pupils - Jodie McGrath-Hayes, Andrew McAlonan, Matthew McBride and Andrew Brown were presented to HRH Prince Edward at St James Palace in London.

Jodie, the first female pupil from BHS to complete the award, commented: “It has been such an exciting day.

“The London atmosphere, the grandeur of the St James Palace and the warmth and interest shown by HRH Prince Edward.

“The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme has been so worthwhile.

“We would like to thank our teacher and former Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator, Miss Monica Brown who officiated at the Palace today.

“She has been continually supportive and guided us successfully through this endeavour.

“The whole experience has been one we will never forget.”

The group completed the award over a two year period completing five categories in skills, physical, residential, volunteering and a challenging four day 80km expedition in the Mournes where torrential rain threatened to scupper their chances.

While Silver and Bronze groups were pulled from the mountains, the fearless adventurers were advised to continue.

Their Gold DofE expedition assessor Colum Clarke remarked: “They’re warriors, let them get on with it!”

Jodie McGrath-Hayes is currently studying BA Hons Finance and Investment Management at Northumbria University.

Andrew McAlonan is studying BSc Hons Business Management at University of Ulster Coleraine.

Matthew McBride is studying BSc Hons Computing at University of Ulster Coleraine and Andrew Brown is studying BA Hons History at University of Ulster Coleraine.

A spokesperson from Ballycastle High School said: “We wish them every success in the future.”