Sixty years of challenging young people is marked by Moray

DofE gold winners visiting Gordonstoun for the Homecoming Challenge - representing 1956-2016
Some of the DofE gold winners at Gordonstoun for the Homecoming Challenge – representing 1956-2016 (Facebook)

PUPILS FROM SECONDARY schools around Moray have successfully undertaken a gruelling challenge that marked the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme.

The scheme that became renowned around the world owes its roots to a former principal of Gordonstoun School, Kurt Hahn, who formed an idea that was pioneered by another Moray school, Elgin Academy.

On Sunday the anniversary celebration was marked by pupils from several schools taking part in a challenge that is typical of the DofE award – and when they finally arrived at Gordonstoun they were welcomed by former pupils who had completed the awards scheme over the last sixty years.

The challenge set out from Balmoral on Saturday when the pupils set out on mountain bikes through the Aberdeenshire countryside and into Moray at Tomintoul. They then walked to a campsite at Ballindalloch before picking up again on Sunday on their bikes again to Aberlour.

From there they boarded canoes to traverse the Spey as far as Fochabers, before once again trekking the final 15-miles to Gordonstoun.

Leg 3 of the DofE Homecoming Challenge as they are about to set off, by canoe, from Aberlour to Fochabers today
Some of the Moray pupils preparing to take to the river during their Homecoming Challenge (Facebook)

Last night the principal at Gordonstoun, Simon Reid, said that the celebrations were “an anniversary that Moray should be proud of”.

He was talking as the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Grenville Johnston, read a message from the Earl of Wessex in which he said: “I am delighted that so many award holders are returning to the school for this occasion, including some from the very first Gordonstoun cohort.

“Thank you to all those involved with or organising this challenge and renewing the connection between the Duke of Edinburgh award, the found of Gordonstoun, the Moray Badge and the schools of Moray.”

Earlier in the weekend Gordonstoun also held its annual Junior Highland Games at the school.

Pupils from Andersons Primary in Forres emerged as junior section winners, beating off the challenge from Erskine Stewart Melville’s School in Edinburgh and St Sylvester Primary coming third.

Pupils from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh led the way in the senior section, leaving Gordonstoun Junior School in second place and the Moray Sea Cadets taking third prize.