In the lead up to The Gold Award Ceremony 2013, we’re highlighting the amazing achievements of 7 Feature Gold Awardees.

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Year 12 student Sophie Weston of St Margaret’s School proved she will go the extra mile by riding her bike from Canberra to Melbourne all for a worthy cause!


Tell us about your cycling adventure from Canberra to Melbourne?

I left from Canberra on Tuesday the 10th of April and spent 6 full days riding to arrive in Melbourne on Sunday the 15th. I was so fortunate to have my dad; Gary and younger sister Olivia come along as a support crew and also ride with me for some parts of the journey. It was also fantastic to have some of my friends make a surprise visit and then ride a day of the trip with me.


The bad weather held off, and I only saw rain and some wind on the last day. It was tough riding alone for many hours at a time, but the knowledge that I was doing it for such a great cause really inspired me to keep going. I rode around 130kms each day with some of the hardest sections being on the dirt road, uphills and on the busy highways. However, it was also a great way to see some rural areas in another state and ride through places that I would rarely get the opportunity to see. We took along a caravan as a support vehicle and this also served as our accommodation throughout the trip.


What was the biggest highlight whilst on your cycling trip?

The highlight of the trip was having my cycling team (the St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar cycling team) join me for the final ride into Federation Square. The purpose of this ride was to raise money for the very worthwhile cause of ‘Love your Sister’. This charity aims to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. In the lead up to the ride I was involved in several fundraising activities through both the social service group at school as well as my cycling team, and managed to raise a total of $7020.80.


The ride was such a different and exciting journey that got me involved in something that I would never have attempted without the Award. It was such a rewarding experience and one that I will never forget.

You also volunteered your time to assist the elderly at a Retirement Village, how did you find this experience?

I found the experience to be very rewarding! I volunteered for 12 months at Fiddlers Green Retirement Village in Berwick. The retirement village was located right near my school, which was even more rewarding as I knew that I was volunteering and making a difference in my immediate community.


Describe a typical day spent volunteering at the Retirement Village?

Every Tuesday after school, I walked down to the retirement village to volunteer for around 1 hour. I mostly helped out in the kitchen area doing a variety of jobs for the staff. This included cutting and peeling vegetables, setting tables, serving up food and doing dishes. My favorite part of volunteering at the home was going out and serving food to the residents. While doing so, I was given a chance to communicate with the residents, which made my job all the more fulfilling. I felt that I got along really well with both the staff and residents and further developed my communication and teamwork skills when volunteering there.


What did you take away from your Award experience?

There are so many valuable things that I have taken away from the Award experience as a whole. While completing the program, I have learnt so many new skills and abilities, including leadership, teamwork and communication skills. I have also learnt about the importance of commitment and persistence in achieving your goals. While being involved in activities such as horse-riding, cooking and scuba-diving, I also was able to try things I had never attempted before and this really encouraged me to develop my skills in these. Overall, the award has been such an incredible experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested!


Why did you want to complete your Gold Award?

After completing both the Bronze and Silver awards, I realized how rewarding the experience was and knew that the Gold award could provide me with that same sense of personal satisfaction. I have just loved getting involved in the wider community and doing something that I know benefits both myself as well as others. I knew that I would be able to gain that same enjoyment from participating in this challenging, yet exciting level of the Award.


What advice do you have for others that are in the process of completing their Award?

I think that it is really important to find something that you’re passionate about or have always longed to do, as the Award is a perfect opportunity to find out more about different activities. It is also important to stay committed and be organized in each component of the award so that you can achieve your goals.


What are your future goals?

Next year I hope to take a GAP year. My plans for the year include a volunteering placement oversees, which will hopefully be in Africa. My future career aspirations involve working in a health related career that will allow me to work in international development

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