LOCAL Scout leader Josh Yelland has been awarded the Queen’s Scout Award – the highest award in Scouting for young people.
Josh has been involved in Scouting since he was six years old and is currently a leader at the Uplyme-based 1st Lym Valley Scout Group. He has been working towards his Queen’s Scout Award and said it was a “real privilege” to receive it, adding: “To have worked towards it over a number of years and then to finally receive it – that’s certainly a special feeling.”
Josh has always thought about going for the award, but had only got around to completing the work recently.
He said: “When I was six and started Beavers, the badge was there on the wall and I always thought I would never achieve it or that I was not the right sort of person to do it.
“I think over time, as with any ambition, it grows on you until a point where you say to yourself: ‘right time to stop talking, let’s get on with it!
“Teachers at Woodroffe started to suggest I do it when I was 16. Mrs Vincent, who was then in charge of the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award at the school, noticed I was a Young Leader at 1st Lym Valleyand suggested that I should fill out the paperwork and start the adventure. My Explorer leaders, Fiona and Nigel, also suggested that I was already doing most of it without realising.”
Josh joked: “I think at that stage I was so sick of being nagged about it, that I just filled out the paperwork and got on with things so I could be left in peace!”
As part of the Queen’s Scout Award, Explorers can choose to do the Gold Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award at the same time.
“I chose to do the Gold DofE Award as well, because it’s a wonderfully challenging thing to go and do,” said Josh.
“It’s also a well recognised award as well, which makes it great to have on your CV when you’re just starting out for your career.”
The Gold DofE requires participants to take up a physical activity, learn a new skill and volunteer for up to 18 months, take part in a residential experience for five days and do an expedition over four days in wild country.
When asked what was the most challenging aspect, Josh said: “Expedition – without a doubt, the expedition. Walking 80km in Snowdonia over four days is a killer, with my arthritis at the time of doing the expedition it was certainly a tough experience.
“But actually completing it felt amazing, I was doing something people and my doctors didn’t expect I could do. When I told my doctors about it all afterwards, they were absolutely horrified about it, but they took it in good humour”.
As for finishing his Queen’s Scout Award, Josh has had to complete a number of additional activities, which included helping the Scout Group grow and taking an Explorer Unit to Denmark for two weeks. In total, it took Josh about five years to complete.
“It can be done quicker, but I wasn’t in a rush!” he joked.
Josh has already had his Gold DofE Award presented to him at Buckingham Palace by ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart in the summer of 2019.
“It was a wonderful day, the weather was amazing. To be able to visit Buckingham Palace is an honour, so to have that as the backdrop for my Gold DofE presentation was beyond words.
“I took my mum along so she could have a nosey around, it was good fun. Alistair Stewart is great storyteller and shakes your hand with great warmth. Couldn’t have had a better day if you tried.”
Unfortunately, for his Queen’s Scout Award, there was no special ceremony at Buckingham Palace due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead Josh received his certificate, signed by the Queen, in the post.
He said: “It’s a strange sort of thing to open up and realise what it is. I had a good smile when I saw it – I had been waiting a while for it!”
When Scouting resumes after lockdown, the 1st Lym Valley Scouts will be having a small celebration to mark Josh’s achievement. He is also set to also take part in the Queen’s Scout Parade and the National Scout Service in Windsor when it’s able to take place.
After years of hard work, Josh said he would definitely recommend others going for the Queen’s Scout Award, commenting: “If you’re a teenager today, it’s a great adventure to go on and the end result being you know much more about what you’re capable of than when you started.”