Smithdon teachers go the extra KM
From left: Amanda, Emily and Alysha at Smithdon. Picture by Ian Burt.

A trio of Norfolk high school teachers step out for Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

There was no stopping a trio of teachers at a West Norfolk high school when they put on their trainers and walked hundreds of kilometres for a virtual adventure.

Smithdon HIgh School’s team had to walk as far as they could during August and September in the challenge to raise money for the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards Scheme (DofE) and two of them came in the top 15 nationally for the distance they covered.

Amanda Wright covered an impressive 805km to take the fifth spot and Emily Hernandez walked 350km while Alysha Moat completed 259km and their effort saw the team in fourth place on the leaderboard with 1,414km. Together they raised a total of £829 for the awards scheme to help support schools take part.

The DofE scheme at Smithdon, a member of the West Norfolk Academies Trust, is led by Alysha who said she was ‘really impressed’ with the efforts of her two colleagues.

“They did brilliantly and to make the top five is really impressive,” she said.

A holder of the DofE Gold Award, Alysha has been an ambassador for the East of England and has always been involved in the scheme.

“Covid-19 has destroyed all the plans for the students this year and they have had to complete it online. We are just launching it this year with Bronze for Year 9 and we have two groups currently working for their Silver Award,” she said.

Amanda, the head of English, never had the chance to complete her DofE at school as she was educated in America, but she was captain of her school’s gymnastics team and has recently returned to regular exercise.

“During the summer holiday Alysha emailed regarding the challenge. Over the years, her work with DofE has been transformational for so many of the students we serve. As life changed most drastically for students, I felt this would be a good opportunity to be an advocate of DofE. All co-curricular activities are important for students, they give young people the added motivation to attend school and achieve,” she said.

“Some walks blessed me with relentless pelting rain. Many days included multiple walks or a walk and a run. When we returned to school the challenge intensified, but I maximised the path between my classroom door and desk, it became a runway. One of my Year 11s commented ‘She never sits down’, and I didn’t!”

Emily has been involved with the DofE Awards since her schooldays and she also has a Gold Award and signed-up to help when she started at the school as a PE teacher.

“I felt that I should lead by example. I have had so much fun over the years being involved in the scheme. I want the students at Smithdon to have the opportunity to get on the DofE ladder and see how far they can push themselves. This is why raising money for this scheme is so important,” she said.