Four young people from the Ballymena area recently completed their Qualifying Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition from Binevenagh to Dunservick Castle on the Causeway Coast over what turned out to be a mixed bag of weather.
The challenges of overcoming the elements however did not deter the four – three of whom are ex-Cullybackey Detachment Army Cadets and one from the Craigs Parish Church, Cullybackey.
The team included Abigail Halligan and Leah Service, both students at Ulster University, Anna-Grace Donnelly who is currently a student at Ballymena’s Northern Regional College, and the only gentleman and eldest member in the team, Joel Roxborough, a previous trainee at Ballymena College and now working as a bricklayer/labourer with Norman Gordan & Sons Contracts.
The young people's four day expedition took them through the beautiful but somewhat mucky Binevenagh which overlooks Magilligan, then covered more of the Keenaght Hills along the edge of the Antrim Plateau taking in many coastal spots along the picturesque North Coast, such as Castlerock, Portstewart, Ballintoy and finishing at ancient royal site of the Dal Riada Gaelic Kingdom Dunservick Castle, Co Antrim.
The sun did make a few guest appearances, but the rain and wind were never too far away. Along the journey the determined adventurers stopped to document wildlife in the various areas as part of their expedition aims.
This week they completed the final section of the expedition and their award by giving a presentation of these aims in front of an audience including the assessor, friends, family and Cullybackey Detachment Cadets.
The four were introduced by B Company, DofE Officer 2Lt Amanda Roxborough who reminded the young cadets that the Army Cadet Force (ACF) encouraged every cadet to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh Award. She added:
“Although this group are now no longer in cadets they can still complete their award right up to the age of 25, so it’s never too late to sign up!”
The audience heard of the story of their coming upon a Stag along the path and ex-Cadet Lance Corporal Joel Roxborough managed to take a photo of the majestic animal before it disappeared into the forest. The team also documented the many birds, mammals and sea life along their journey.
Ex-cadets Leah Service and Anna Grace Donnelly talked about the different wildlife in the area and the 1st (NI) Battalion DofE Officer who was the assessor on the evening was well impressed with the effort they put into the presentation, asking them how they kept their spirits up along the route.
Abigail Halligan said:
“We told each jokes, shared sweets, and bonded through our stories about our experiences on our own Bronze and Silver expeditions. After hearing about all the things the others had done through the Army Cadet Force, I wish I had joined too!"
The four members also shared how they had made lifelong friendships and all wanted to go together to Buckingham Palace to receive their well earned awards in this Coronation Year.
We wish them luck!
For fun, friendship, action, and adventure, join the Army Cadet Force. If you are over 12 and under 18 you can join. You can find out more by visiting: