There may be candidates who have achieved their gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in a shorter time.
But there can’t be many who have risen to the challenge with as much aplomb as the five young Perthshire people being celebrated this week.
Lewis Scullion, Archie Curran, Harry Henderson, Callum Armstrong and Kayleigh Ptak all have additional support needs.
They didn’t know one another when they set out on their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award journey in 2017.
But in the six years since they have supported one another through a host of physical, mental and emotional hurdles to secure their coveted gold awards together.
There, friends, family and supporters heard them described as “five amazing human beings and the elite troops of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme”.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award ASN group brought friends together
Lewis, Archie, Harry, Callum and Kayleigh became friends through an ASN (additional support needs) open group.
It is run by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Perth and Kinross Association.
The group supports young people who are interested in the scheme, but have not had an opportunity to take part through their school or youth group.
Many more young people started out on the path to their silver award.
But having got that far, Archie, Harry, Callum and Kayleigh decided they would go for gold.
That’s when they were joined by Lewis, from Dunblane, who had completed his silver award with his local BB group.
All five had to complete a series of demanding challenges around physical activities, skills and volunteering, as well as an expedition.
They stuck at it through all the highs and lows, despite midges, wet feet and a global pandemic thrown in for good measure.
Team spirit, kindness and compassion saw group through
Their individual talents were celebrated at this week’s team presentation.
Lewis, 21, was described as a Scottish Disability Sport silver medal-winning golfer, who showed real bravery in striking out on his own from Dunblane to join the Perth group.
Archie, 21, from Auchterarder, was praised for his sense of humour. The audience heard he is a great gardener who is “all about the team”.
Harry, 22, from Dunning, became the group’s chef. Leaders said he “rose to every challenge”.
Callum, 21, who is also from Dunning, was “a fantastic team player, who really looked out for the other team members at all times”.
And Kayleigh, 21, from Abernethy, was described as a kind and thoughtful “super off-road biker chick”, who grabs every opportunity with both hands.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Perth and Kinross Association chairman Robin Illsley said it had been a joy to watch them succeed as part of the ASN open group.
“You have shown us that human beings can achieve great things when we stick together, and when we behave with kindness and compassion and do things for one another,” he told them.