Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Golden moment with Duke

A WOMAN from Kidmore End has received a Duke of Edinburgh’s gold award — from Prince Philip himself.

A WOMAN from Kidmore End has received a Duke of Edinburgh’s gold award — from Prince Philip himself.

Kirsty Maclean, 23, attended an awards ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.

She told the Duke about working on a medical boat in Cambodia, where she was part of a team that provided healthcare to remote communities living in floating houses on Tonlé Sap, the biggest lake in south-east Asia.

Miss Maclean, who is now a junior doctor at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in Lancashire, said: “Cambodia proved to be the experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget.

“Visiting these communities on their floating houses, made of wood and barrels, was a humbling and eye-opening experience.

“We travelled around the lake on a rickety old wooden boat, where we would sleep and eat, and when we arrived at the various villages we were greeted by queues of villagers who had been waiting for hours and hours in the sweltering heat to receive the basics of healthcare, such as paracetamol and antibiotics. They would otherwise have no access to healthcare.

“Seeing a child happier to receive a sticker rather than the latest ‘must- have’ gadget was a delight and a moment that I will never ever forget. I wish I had taken more stickers.”

She added: “When I went to collect my award I was lucky enough to speak to the Duke of Edinburgh about my time in Cambodia.

“He was extremely interested because he set up the awards in 1956. He asked the parents present if any of them had got theirs. He was in our room for about five to 10 minutes.”

Miss Maclean, a former pupil at Kidmore End Primary School, began her award five years ago while studying at Queen Anne’s School in Caversham.

It also involved a group expedition in the Highlands, where they “wild camped” for four nights. Their trip included walking through bogs and navigating and climbing peaks with 20kg rucksacks on their backs.

Miss Maclean also coached squash, volunteered in a children’s nursery as part of her service and passed grade eight playing the piano. She said: “I would recommend participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s awards to anybody.

“From teamwork to communication skills, physical to emotional challenges, it provides experiences which you may never come up against elsewhere.”

Miss MacLean, who had already collected her bronze and silver awards, plans to continue supporting the Lake Clinic in Cambodia.

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