“Watch that the lions don’t hurt each other!”


This may be one of the strangest instructions given to a young person working towards Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. Chris Hammond explains what was behind it

Calling Young SIMers

There are probably not many young people who are working through their Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme who are given such instructions; but that is one of the tasks given to Chris Hammond as he did the Residential element of his Gold Award programme at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.

“Mostly I was helping to prepare food for and feeding the primates at the centre: Vervet and Blue Monkeys as well as Yellow and Olive Baboons,” he said.

Lions with health issues!

“But there was an enclosure with a couple of lions who have health issues and are in danger of hurting each other. I was asked to observe, from a very safe position, to make sure they did not harm each other!”

Chris spent a week as a volunteer at the Centre and found the experience to be both rewarding and enjoyable.

“I have an interest in wildlife so it was good to get this experience of working as a volunteer,” he said.

“The centre was very well set up to cope with volunteers and it was really well organised which helped with the overall experience. I would be happy to do it again if the opportunity came up but I don’t think it would be a long-term career for me.”

Chris is about a year into an 18-month programme to complete his Gold Award by the end of this academic year in July 2017. He has already completed the Expedition phase and is well establish on the other three elements Skills, Community Service and Sports.

One of the lions Chris was asked to ‘keep an eye on’!

ther aspects of DofE

“The expedition was a four-day trek from the Vipya Forest in the north of Malawi to the Lake,” he said.

“It was about 110 kilometres and involved wild camping in a really beautiful part of the country. My Skills element is centred around guitar playing and my involvement in a local band, ‘Tuesday’s Child’. Community service is operating the sound desk at the Blantyre Community Church and the Sports is rock climbing which we do at the climbing wall at St Andrew’s International School.”

This is a big commitment, especially on top of school work (he is in the final year of his A-Level courses), but Chris has found the whole experience very rewarding.

Hard work - but fun!

“It is a lot of work but I think the end result will be worth it,” he said.

“Certainly having the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award on your CV is really well appreciated in the UK and Australia. But in addition to that, it helps to develop new skills and builds confidence as well as being really good fun!”