A CARLISLE student has struck gold in a gruelling four-day Duke of Edinburgh Awards expedition.

Marcus was one of seven students from Beaumont College of Further Education, a special educational needs college in Lancaster, to have endured the exercise.

Four of the team, including Marcus, have now completed their Gold Award following 18 months of hard work - it is considered an exceptional standard for any young person, especially those with complex needs.

Other members of the team included Pippa, Jadhaan, Liam, Harry, Aaron and Natasha.

The team members have conditions like autism and learning disabilities - they are the first students at the college to take part in the Gold level of the awards.

As part of the exercise they walked more than 26 kilometres and camped for three nights.

The expedition had originally been planned for June, however it had to be postponed and adjustments to the task made in order to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Marcus was able to provide support as team members clambered over rugged terrain and boundary stiles.

Rachel Diss, occupational therapist at the college, said: “It has been impressive watching these young achievers develop the skills required for all elements of the expedition section of the award, but also positive to see the committed staff support team backing off and empowering the team to start to rely solely on each other.

"This has been a gradual process of supporting their individual needs including, physical, social and emotional wellbeing whilst building their skills and confidence in themselves and their team. “The rain on the first night of camping was absolutely torrential, but the team were determined to see it through and didn’t let a bit of rain deter them from carrying on. They were an inspiration."

They knew it was the last opportunity they would have to achieve this as a team, and they weren’t letting anything stand in their way."

"As well as their learning needs, team members also had physical challenges with carrying the required kit and covering the selected terrain and distance. They all had to commit to the challenge and work hard to get it finished together.”

Liam, on the final day of the expedition, said: “I am so impressed with how well everyone has done.”

Aaron, Marcus, Natasha and Jadhaan have now completed all sections within the Gold Award and their teammates will complete their remaining sections by the end of the academic year.

Beaumont College is a national specialist college, with students aged 18 to 25.