Each year travel scholarships are awarded to Oundle School pupils to encourage a spirit of adventure, exploration and physical challenge.
This year the School’s Adventure Awards Committee considered applications and presentations made by twelve different groups involving forty-three pupils from the Lower Sixth Form. Between them, they proposed an astonishingly wide variety of exciting, inspiring and sometimes quite quirky travel adventures.
Six winners were chosen, ranging from an arduous physical challenge to a cycling pilgrimage to honour the soldiers of the Battle of the Somme and on to a quest for Italy’s less well-trodden artistic gems. Bavaria, France, Italy, Switzerland and the Somme are the destinations of the 2017 award recipients.
The most prestigious scholarship, The Dudgeon Venture Award, was won by three New House girls who will trail run through three countries. Sammie Kwong (17), Jemima Bostrom (17) and Isabella Wythe (17) will complete the CCC® trail-running route (101km), which starts in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps, goes through Champex-Lac in Switzerland and ends in France in the heart of Chamonix.
Teacher, Tommy Harris commented, “The girls’ ambition and determination was outstanding and they captured the essence of these awards. Whilst enjoying the stunning views that the Alps offer, they will have to navigate numerous passages in high altitude and in difficult weather conditions. They spoke passionately about needing a real capacity of personal autonomy and a high level of mental toughness. The Committee agreed with the pupils’ belief that it would be the ultimate test of their grit, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime experience which they would never forget.
Praise must be offered to all the groups that presented their plans so adeptly and faced questions from the ‘Dragons’ Den’ style panel of teachers. It was clear that all the pupils had thought beyond the conventional tourist hotspots of Europe to achieve a real sense of adventure and originality to their trips. It has been brilliant to see the pupils embrace the challenge of setting out an overarching purpose to their travel plans and giving form to their personal interests and aspirations so effectively.”
The history of these awards dates to the Second World War, with an Old Oundelian called Patrick Dudgeon. He was detailed to be parachuted into Italy with orders to bomb a bridge. He was captured and tortured to betray his plans and companions, but refused to speak, and was executed. The fact that his German interrogator wrote to the British commander saying that Dudgeon was the bravest man he had ever met should give some idea of what he went through before he died. His family wanted to set up something in his memory, and gave money to the School for a travel scholarship to inspire pupils to create their own adventures. Other families have done the same, and there are several awards available for those pupils who want to plan and organise their own trips, which can be physically challenging or intellectually stimulating; the choice is entirely the pupils.