The extraordinary Tori James recently presented the Upper Five with their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh awards. To gain the qualification you have to complete six months of volunteering, learn a new skill, and regularly do a physical activity. On top of this, you undertake a two day expedition, camping overnight.
To start off the presentation evening a video was shown, outlining the highs and lows of one of the groups' personal Duke of Edinburgh experiences. One group got lost in a field for an hour, got drenched in the pouring rain and sang songs in a way that the Music department would not be proud of!
Afterwards, James gave an inspirational speech on how her passion for the great outdoors has led her on to do amazing things. James grew up on a farm in Wales and she had always loved being outdoors, particularly in the mountains. She had also always admired those who represented their country in some way; whether it was through running for Wales or playing netball on the Welsh team. But, because she didn't play sports, James just accepted that this would never be for her. However, after achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award, she began to realize her own potential.
In 2005 James became a member of the ‘Pink Lady Polecats’, the first all-female team to complete The Polar Challenge. This is an exhausting 360 mile race to the magnetic North Pole. After achieving this, she decided to wait a while before her next adventure.
What do you say when you’re asked/challenged to climb to the summit of Everest? Tempted by the fact she would be the first Welsh woman to reach the summit, she accepted. The process involved 9 months of intensive training and searching for sponsors to pay for the expensive expedition. Climbing the mountain itself was also a long and arduous process due to the fact that you have to climb Everest in stages, continually returning to base camp!
James’s talk ended with a vivid description of the amazing feeling of accomplishment she felt when she had reached her goal, and it reminded everyone of where Duke of Edinburgh can take you. Not to mention the opportunities it opens up.
The evening was completed with James handing out this year’s bronze certificates and it was an amazing opportunity to meet such an inspirational woman. She made us see that with perseverance, determination and resolve, anything is achievable.