Victoria’s next generation of leaders’ walked the red carpet last Saturday night to accept their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.

Duke of Ed Victoria had the absolute pleasure of welcoming 400 friends, family, teachers, principals, board members, representatives from our extended Duke of Ed family, sponsors and supporters to the beautiful Savoy Ballroom at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt to share in what is the pinnacle of achievement in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Up to three years of preparation, commitment and perseverance finally paid off for each of the 75 young Victorians who were presented with their Gold Award by Australia’s very first Gold Award recipient Michael Dillon AM.

The Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the most difficult of the three levels to attain where young people embark on a journey rich in diversity, full of challenge and jam-packed with adventure and rewarding experiences. The Gold Award Gala was the culmination of this journey and we are so very proud of this year’s Gold Awardees for unleashing their capacity and achieving something truly unique.

“Each Awardee has an individual story to tell, a personal experience to reflect on, an achievement they can be proud of. Each Awardee is unique and has touched people’s lives in ways they probably never imagined possible. Personally, this Award has given me confidence. 3 years ago I would not have been up here speaking on this stage. This Award has inspired us and we have inspired communities. Whether they be abroad or closer to home, Duke of Ed Awardees give back and set an attitude for the future.”

Abigail Rowe from St Margaret’s School spoke at the Gala on behalf of the 2015 cohort.

Images>> 1. Our MC Christie Cooper & CEO Anoushka Gungadin 
2. Abigail Rowe's speech 3. Jakob De Coninck receiving Award from 
Michael Dillon AM 4. Nathan Tran & Samantha Stewart

One of our participants, Savannah Gill aged 18 from Geelong Grammar School, set herself a truly incredible challenge as part of the Residential Project component of the Award: swimming the English Channel. Read about Savannah’s Duke of Ed accomplishments in The Geelong Independent here.

Vanessa Mae Cohen aged 17 helped restore a community affected by bushfires by clearing hiking trails on her Adventurous Journey. “The final moments of looking back at the track work I had done gave me the most wonderful feeling of accomplishment. I had been able to help rebuild a community hiking track after bushfires in my own small way.” Read Vanessa’s full story here.

Regardless of how our young Participants fulfilled the criteria, the one thing that is clear is that The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award provides practical knowledge and opportunities for Victoria’s future leaders to learn essential life skills.

“The Duke of Ed has challenged me, shaped me and brought me into contact with amazing people. Of all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had during my adolescence, Duke of Ed is the one that will resonate with me for the remainder of my life, having given me life skills and lead me to further and grander endeavours.”Megan Walsh, Santa Maria College. Read Megan’s full story here on how the Award inspired her future career path.

In addition to celebrating our Gold Awardees, we also revealed the deserving winners of the Excellence and Innovation Awards. Congratulations to the following:

We thank you all for your tireless dedication, positive influence and your integral role in playing the pillars of support to our Awardees. The incredible leadership demonstrated by each of you gives us the confidence that we are setting our young people up for success.

Congratulations to David Hibbard too from The Geelong College who received a special plaque from the Governor-General in recognition of his 24 years of volunteer service to the Award.

We would also like to congratulate and thank all Excellence and Innovation Award Finalists, nominees and judges, as well as extending our thanks to all parents, family members, mentors, Assessors and support teams – the Award programs and the ongoing positive impact they have on our young people would not be possible without you.

After the presentations, Auctioneer Michael Kelly ran a live auction where guests had the opportunity to win some amazing prizes to further support our cause. It was then time to put on our dancing shoes as X-Factor’s Jason Heerah took the stage and entertained us with his impressive vocals and drumming talent and was then followed by DJ Josh from the Block – it’s pretty needless to say the dance floor was pumping!

We are absolutely blown away by over $24,500 that was raised on the night, as well as almost $70,000 from sponsors, supporters and in-kind support = a total of almost $90,000!

This is absolutely incredible and will go towards our goal of reaching 1 million young Victorians from diverse backgrounds including Indigenous youth, remote and rural communities, and other young people who are unable to afford access due to social and economic disadvantage.

A sincere thank you to the Sponsors and Supporters who made our Gala possible. Your active involvement demonstrates your commitment to fostering the development of young Australians. Thank you to our wonderful MC Christie Cooper, Michael Dillon AM, Jason Heerah, Josh Denston, Michael Kelly, Professor John Dewar for your support.

Nothing great can be achieved alone and, with your support, we know we can rise to the aspiration of our young people and take Australia into the future with confidence.

Please stay tuned for more Gala pics, news and media articles as we are releasing a Special Gold Award Edition of our newsletter, Award Edge. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here!

Also stay tuned for the winner of our‘Go for Gold’ Instagram Photo Comp to be announced soon on our Duke of Ed Victoria Facebook page!

And lastly, professional photography taken on the night will be available to view online by tomorrow (Tuesday!) morning. You can view and purchase these photos through GHPImages website:

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