Durham Army Cadet wins CVQO Duke of Westminster Award

1 July 2014

Durham Army Cadet, Sergeant Daniel Wilkie, (18), from Ryhope in Sunderland, has beaten hundreds of other cadets to be named the CVQO Duke of Westminster Award winner 2014. He was presented with his award by Lord Lingfield, CVQO chairman of Trustees, at a prestigious awards ceremony at the House of Lords hosted by education charity CVQO.

Daniel spent most of his childhood in care after a tragic event when, at just three years old, he witnessed the death of his father in the street where they lived.

He joined Ryhope Detachment of the Army Cadet Force in Sunderland in May 2010 at the recommendation of his probation officer who warned him he was facing a future potentially filled with problems. This was the start of a life-changing time for Daniel who also spent almost four years taking care of his grandmother, who suffered from dementia, until she died in 2012.

Now a seen as a local hero, according to his ACF Commanding Officer, he is member of C Company Durham ACF and in 2013 he was awarded the St John Ambulance First Aider of the Year Certificate and presented with a Royal Humane Society Certificate by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear.

Guy Horridge, CVQO chief executive, said: “Daniel has not had the easiest of lives and is a wonderful example of how he has turned his life around himself and not let his past get the better of him. He is a worthy winner of this award for his humility, self-awareness and valuable contributions to his local community. He has demonstrated that whatever challenges life throws at you, it is possible to achieve great things and set and example to others.”

On learning of his win, Daniel said: “I’m very proud and very shocked – I’m not sure what made me stand out from the others as they all deserved to be here. I will remember this day for a long time."

From over 250 initial cadet nominees for the coveted award, 24 regional finalists were selected to compete in a challenging four-day selection event in the Quantock Hills, Somerset, which tested their communication, teamwork and leadership skills through a variety of demanding physical and mental tasks. From that event, just nine were selected as CVQO Duke of Westminster national finalists.

The nine national finalists will be leaving for a three-week educational expedition in South Africa in July where they will undertake an environmental awareness course and a cultural project.

- Original article and podcast here: http://www.cvqo.org/news/browse/local-hero-durham-army-cadet-wins-cvqo-duke-of-westminster-award#sthash.ja47tGn3.dpuf