William Palmer, the 18-year-old son of Gunnedah-born Matthew Palmer – who lives and teaches mathematics in England – was recently invited to Buckingham Palace to be presented with his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Having already gained his Bronze Award, Will went on to complete the required criteria to gain his Gold Award during the 2022-23 academic year, but due to the scheduling of school exams, had to defer attending the presentation ceremony, until this month, on May 10.

There were five sections of achievements Will was required to fulfil.

The first was sport and Will has been practising karate for nearly a decade so his aim was to gain his black belt.

The second was skill – Will has been learning piano, so went on to pass Grade 4 Level.

The third was residential where he spent five nights with people he had never met before. Will chose to learn to sail on the Pegasus, a Gaff Rigged Pilot Cutter run by the Inland Trust, which has 12 berths, 10 for guests and two for crew. With just the captain and one crew member, Will and a group of teenagers lived onboard, working shifts, taking turns learning and performing the roles of each crew member- from the cook to the captain – required to sail such a boat while travelling along the route of the south coast of Devon.

The fourth was volunteering. Being brought up playing a variety of sports, Will decided to volunteer as a tennis coach. So, every Saturday, for a year, he would coach primary school children, using the courts at Bath University.

The fifth part was expedition. Will had to spend five days and four nights camping, using skills he acquired from his father, who as a young boy, was a cub, scout and venturer in Gunnedah.

Using only what he could carry in his backpack, Will had to be fully self sufficient, camping out in the wilds. He first had a practice run in the Peak District, before camping out in Wales, on Snowdonia.

Will attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It was a glorious day, with the sun shining, the military band playing and Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh delivering a speech. The guests were allowed to walk all around the outside of the palace and the ceremony was held in the beautiful expansive palace gardens, which are not normally visible to the public.

In July 2022, Will was one of the students selected to visit CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva and one day he hopes to work there. He now attends Exeter University, in his first year studying physics.

His proud grandparents are Jeff and Shirley Palmer of Gunnedah and great-grandmother is Margaret Bovey.

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