Award holder defeats odds to get Gold

An Award participant from London, UK, has achieved her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, showing incredible strength and determination despite severe health problems.

Despite being born with three kidneys, a hole in the heart, hydrocephalus (a condition that swells the brain causing problems with vision and other motor skills) Kate McDevitt, 25, has succeeded in getting her Gold Award. 

"It has been depressing. I haven't been able to get a job, it’s hard to find volunteering opportunities because of the support I need – or people assume I need – and I've been in and out of hospital all my life. But my Duke of Edinburgh Award programme showed me I can achieve anything," said Kate, speaking about her tremendous achievement. 

A mountain to climb 

Kate, who has also received her Bronze and Silver Awards, showed great courage, energy and determination in carrying out a variety of activities to achieve her Gold Award, including sailing, swimming for charity, hiking, helping in a nursery and doing work experience on the London Underground transport system. Kate said the Award programme had made her realise anything is possible. "I can't believe I managed to get through it all," she said. "It seemed like a mountain to climb but I did it. I had done my Bronze and Silver Awards but I never thought I could get Gold. I’m really happy." 

Kate was able to participate in the Award thanks to the 1st Chance Project, an inclusion and equality project for disabled 16-to-25-year-olds run by Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability (HAFAD). Esme Young, training and progression worker at HAFAD, told us about the volunteer work Kate undertook for her Service Section.

"Kate persevered through twelve months of volunteer work – fundraising for Children in Need and HAFAD, and campaigning on issues surrounding disability rights – and stayed away from home for nights on end. I’m really proud that Kate managed it. For lots of young people it’s an achievement to be away from home, away from familiar comforts for the first time, but for Kate, who has so many more barriers to overcome, it’s a particularly big accomplishment.” 

Going for Gold 

As for all Gold Award recipients, Kate’s Award certificate was given to her personally by The Duke of Edinburgh at a Gold Award Presentation at St James’s Palace, London. On meeting His Royal Highness, Kate said: "He was fantastic and really listened to all our stories. He was an inspiration and is amazingly fit and well for his age."

Kate now hopes to use her energy and positivity to be an example to others in the future: “I want to inspire other disabled people and show them that anything is possible.”