A date at the Palace?


After 18 months’ hard work, Peter Wheatley is awaiting news about a possible date at Buckingham Place and a meeting with HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, when he and the family are back in the UK for a few months later in the year.

Peter has recently completed his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award after combining the three key areas of Skills, Physical and Community, and this has involved him in working not just in Malawi but in Mozambique as well. One area of the Award, in Peter’s case the Physical aspect, was worked on over the full 18 months while the other two had 12 months each. In addition there was a four-day expedition and a five-day community-based project to be completed.

“I have really enjoyed the whole experience and it has helped me to develop a range of skills such as personal development, teamwork and leadership which will be useful in the future,” said Peter.

Playing rugby for St Andrew's International School in Blantyre

“For the Skills section I was able to develop my clarinet playing and use this in a variety of ways, including helping to lead worship in the church I attend. The Physical element was playing rugby and the Community part was helping to teach sports and also helping in a primary school in Mozambique.”

But it is not just the direct benefit from honing skills in the three areas which has helped Peter; he has found other important attributes have been improved or have had to be developed.

“Teaching sport under the Community element is a good example of how things have helped me as I have worked with others,” he said.

“It has helped me to develop leadership skills but also to learn to have patience when dealing with people. Most of the people I was teaching were Malawian and sometimes there were obvious language problems which could have caused friction, but we got through it!”

And his language skills were further tested in his time on the five-day Community project which Peter accomplished in Mozambique. Before coming to Malawi, the Wheatley family served with SIM in Mozambique and it was through contacts with former colleagues in that country that Peter was able to work in a school for a week.

A 'humbling time' - working in Mozambique on a five-day community project

“The week in Mozambique was a very humbling time,” he recalls.

“Malawi is a poor country but Mozambique, or at least the area in which I was working, is the poorest of the poor. Fees for the school in which I worked come out at about $1.50 for the entire year, but parents still struggle to raise even that much. But the kids were great; it was a very rewarding week and it helped me to brush up my rusty Portuguese!”

So what would Peter’s advice be to other young people who are thinking of taking up the challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme?

“I would say it is well worth it and would recommend people taking up the challenge,” he said.

“I started it because we had a talk at school and were told that the Award Scheme is a major thing to have on your CV for university or when looking for a job. But as I worked through things I realised it was much more than that. It helps to develop you as a person, makes you look at things in a different way, and develops skills that you can take forward.  I would say if you have the chance to take part then do so because it is well worth all of the experiences you will come across.”

Helping to run a training session with Sports Friends Malawi 

But Peter is not the only one on this trail. As he awaits his date at the Palace, three more Young SIMers, Joshua and Chris Hammond and Sarah Wheatley, are all embarking on the Award Scheme and, thanks to St Andrew’s International School introducing this in year 10, there will be even more working towards this standard in the years ahead.