Eighteen year old James Hall has achieved the prestigious Queen’s Scout Award (QSA), the highest honour in Scouting for personal achievement. He is the first member of Chorleywood Scouts to achieve this accolade in 15 years. We talk to him about the experience of the challenge which he worked towards for three years
The requirements for QSA are the same as the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award with a few scout specific extras.. James achieved both and collected his Gold DofE at Buckingham Palace in May.
“I had a great day meeting Prince Andrew, The Duke and Duchess of Wessex and Radio 1 Host Yasmin Evans!”
“I’ve done so many things over the three years through the different levels Platinum, Diamond and Queen’s Scout …You need to demonstrate a skill (mine was playing the cornet in the school orchestra), a physical activity (I fence), volunteer in the community, go on expeditions and take part in a residential project. You have to spend six nights away for each level too. After I completed my Gold DofE I went on to finish 6 other modules for the QSA (2 each from International, Environmental and Community).”
“The scariest day ended up the most awesome one. We were climbing Mount Snowdon the day before we reached our next peak to the summit but couldn’t find the path or see the top. We had to take a bearing and put total trust in our equipment. When we broke over the top of the ridge it was the best feeling ever. And a great relief! We had used all of our skills that we had built up at this one moment.”
“We were sailing back across the channel from France going south and sailing directly into the wind. We had to tack (The boat can’t sail directly into the wind so has to zigzag or tack its way upwind instead). We had two teams, one would be on deck and one below, but we didn’t get much sleep – every 40 mins or so the boat changed direction and we had to move to bunks on the other side of the boat. It made us laugh a lot, even at 3am.”
“One of the most memorable days was when we gave glow sticks to the people in Uganda… It was so humbling, they had never seen them before – we showed them how to crack them to start the reaction and they were so happy. It was a wake-up call, we take too many things for granted.”
“It wasn’t actually part of the award but listening to Rob McArthur speak at Gilwell Park, Scout HQ about their Arch2arctic challenge was so inspiring. Rob left Marble Arch, London on 15 June with Poldy Van Lynden heading for an island in the arctic but to get there they are just using human power – they ran three marathons from London to Dover; swam the English Channel; now they are cycling to Norway and will row across the Arctic Sea to the island. It’s amazing. The expedition is in aid of the Scouts.”
So, what’s next for James?
“If my A level grades are OK I go to Liverpool Uni to study Aerospace Engineering. I think I will never stop challenging myself as being a Queen’s Scout is a lifelong role. I will be able to go to Windsor Castle next St George’s Day to take part in their Queen’s Scout parade. We will learn to march and then meet Bear Grylls and a member of the Royal Family.”