For Annabel Johnston, taking part in the Gold Award helped her discover a deep love for singing and sparked a new confidence in her that she didn’t know existed.

From once being afraid of performing in front of an audience to now relishing the opportunity to entertain, Annabel has certainly come along way since she first started her Award journey. Here she shares her story:

I first started singing when I was 8 years old, but I only recognized my passion for it during year 10. This is the year I became a member of the choir ‘Belcanto’, which is an elite school choir at Firbank Grammar. In addition, I also took singing lessons and was part of the general school choir, as well as the Touring Choir.

For the Residential portion of the Award, I used the experience of touring through Germany and Austria, to compete in the Summa Cum Laude Festival, with Belcanto. We came first in our category and were awarded with “outstanding success”, allowing us to perform at the Gala Event with leading orchestras and choirs from across the world.

This was an incredible experience, as I was able to learn about different vocal techniques and develop relationships with people from across the globe. An experience that may not have happened without my participation in The Duke of Ed Award.

The highlight for me when I sing in a choir is being able to move an audience by creating a particular mood or emotion. In addition, when I sing I am transported to another sphere, where the outside world disappears and I am in my own space creating a temporary piece of art.

The beauty with singing is that it enables you to feel a variety of emotions depending on what you sing and how you sing it. I particularly enjoy singing Latin songs, because the harmonies and techniques required are challenging, although, they can create a beautiful sound, if sung correctly.

My confidence has definitely grown from when I first started singing to now. I used to be afraid of performing for an audience, both with a choir and solo. Now I relish the opportunity to entertain people, as my vocal ability continues to improve. The Award has certainly improved my confidence levels and sense of self-worth.

The Award motivated me to focus on singing, as I set goals with my mentor to improve my vocal range. Throughout completing the Gold Award I achieved my goal and strengthened the tone and quality of my voice. My mentor, Joanne Cole, played a part in my development, by having confidence in my singing and organising events for solo performances. This has assisted in improving my confidence and passion for singing. I want to continue singing in the future, as the skill provides me with an outlet in which I can relax but also challenge myself. For this reason I adore singing in both the choir and solo, as it evokes a sense of pleasure that no other skill or hobby can provide.

I love singing to a wider audience and hopefully I will inspire others to pursue a hobby or passion. You never know where it may lead!


For the Skill Section of the Gold Award, Participants are required to complete an average of 1 hour of Skill development per week over the duration of 12 months. Through setting goals and working towards them, young people develop a real sense of commitment and build confidence and resilience in the process.

On behalf of the team at Duke of Ed Victoria, we would like to congratulate Annabel on her fantastic achievements. Annabel will be receiving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the Gold Award Gala in December this year. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to purchase a ticket to support more young people discovering their passions. More info here.

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