Two Explorer Scouts from Bedford have received top awards from the Queen and Prince Philip after completing a series of gruelling challenges. In April they expect to join around 300 other award winners at Windsor Castle for the prestigious national St George’s Day Parade.
Seventeen year old Ben Diffey and Paige Honour from the Panthers Explorer Scout Unit have both completed their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and their Queen’s Scout Awards for a rare double accolade. They received their honours from Deputy County Commissioner Alan Burnham at a ceremony in their Cardington Road headquarters. The Royal citation reads: “I wish you God-speed on your journey through life; may it prove for you a joyous adventure.”
The extraordinary pair braved torrential rain in the Peak District last August to complete a four-day, 50-mile expedition which at times meant wading along flooded pathways. They said, “Nearly a foot of rain fell in the area during the month before the hike and there was no let up in the downpour. We forced our way along a route that was often knee deep in flood water. Sometimes rain and mist reduced visibility to just a few inches. It was awesome.”
Ben added, “A month earlier we attended the Icelandic Scout Jamboree near Reykjavik for the conservation challenge. It was out of this world. We saw the devastation caused by volcanic activity and how the Icelanders coped. There was a mixture of hot springs to bathe in and a moonscape of Icelandic tundra to explore. We went white water rafting in streams that broke the speed limit and found out how to save people washed overboard.”
In addition to fighting the elements, Ben and Paige learned to climb vertical cliff faces at the Kempston Indoor Activity Centre. For their service challenge they helped run camps at Phasels Wood near Kings Langley. Paige said, “For my international challenge I taught my Cub Scouts German songs and nursery rhymes. They were outstanding.”
They both agreed that handling the Peak District floods was the hardest challenge they faced. They added, “As young leaders we can now inspire our youngsters with real life adventure stories. It’s been a wonderful experience.”