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Evening Meeting With Amanda Mckean, Director Canterbury Festival

30th April 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground

Evening meeting with Amanda McKean, Director, Canterbury Festival.
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Lunchtime Meeting Agm & May Business Meeting

7th May 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground
Lunchtime meeting 12.30pm for 1pm meal Annual General Meeting to be followed by the May Business Meeting.
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Update on St Nicholas School Duke of Edinburgh Gold Challenge

We’re delighted to give an update here on students from St Nicholas School, Canterbury that recently undertook the Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) Gold Challenge. We’re very proud of all that they’ve achieved!

Regular readers will recall the article we published back in January about our support for the trip before the students set off on their exciting journey (here). The five pupils who took part in the challenge are all now back at home after their adventure. We gather that all of them now have greater confidence and that their communication skills have improved. All of the youngsters will get their Gold Award later in the year.

We got in touch with Deputy Headteacher Stephen King to find out how they got on. Here’s what he had to say:
 
The young people all found the visit a big challenge – but one that they were all keen and willing to have and to achieve. This was a great physical, social and, at times, emotional experience for all the young people involved. The challenges for them were immense – planning their meals, buying their shopping, trekking in snow shoes for 5 km per day through a forest for up to 4 hours per day, cooking and preparing their breakfast/lunch/dinner each day, working as a team / getting along together, living away from home and being in a close knit group supporting each other. 
 
The highs: all the pupils built their stamina, speed and confidence over the week. They were all able to speak as part of an audio diary each day for Radio Kent and were interviewed on TV (read news item below).
 
The lows: the extreme cold during the second week – minus 23 degrees C to minus- 30 (feeling like minus 35!) When and if the pupils felt cold it brought down their mood; we would have to help warm them up and build their spirits again. Sometimes it was hard for the youngsters to get along with each other, especially when they were tired. This meant some relationship support had to be put into place.
 
All five pupils found the experience amazing and said it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity; four of them said that they would never forget it, four said it would change their life forever and three said it would help them be more independent as adults. Two said they are now more likely to want to live independently – and want to get a job – as a result.
 
In summary, this really was a fantastic achievement, they all tried so hard and did so well. The whole point of DoE is to push yourself out of your comfort zone; they all did this wonderfully and we are so proud of them. Over the week they  trekked over 25 km in total in the coldest possible temperatures – but they had on the correct layers of clothing and had the right equipment with them. They also had to practise three different ways of how to stay warm in an emergency situation – thankfully this was not needed! This as an achievement is a big as it gets for our young people, in preparation for their life beyond and readiness for an independent adult life.
 
Some comments from the youngsters:
‘I really enjoyed riding on the huskies – it was amazing. I enjoyed the sauna but the snow-shoeing was very hard, particularly when the snow was deeper.’
‘It was really cold outside!’
‘It has definitely boosted my confidence and I feel more independent.’
‘I feel I am helping other autistic pupils, like me, to  get more recognition.’
‘I was very nervous at first but now I have completed my D of E and am home, amazed. I am very proud of myself – for what I have achieved.”
 
And finally, some quote from the parents:
‘They have all come back different people. The best experience was had by all.’
‘We had happy tears from our child this morning. They really did have such a wonderful time – thank you to everyone for making their experience so wonderful.’
 
To read a BBC news item on the youngsters from earlier this week, please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-68320362 
 
With many thanks to Stephen King for help with this article. 
 
Picture: A picture taken during the trip. Picture credit: St Nicholas School, Canterbury (reproduced with permission).
 

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CT1 3NZ,
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