An air cadet from Ifield has competed alongside 26 others for a place on a prestigious educational trip to South Africa this year.
Lauren Thynne of XIX Crawley Squadron Air Training Corps took part in the four-day event last week hoping to be chosen as one of nine national finalists in the CVQO Duke of Westminster Award.
Those lucky nine will win a place on a two-week expedition to South Africa in July to work with schools in an environmental awareness programme and learning about the country’s history.
All the candidates were nominated for their altruistic spirit - to help those around them, overcome personal challenges or provide help to their communities.
Lauren, 17 was nominated for her work helping those who have been affected by bullying. She runs a mentoring scheme and actively helps those in need of support. She also fundraises for the Neuroblastoma Society each year.
Lauren said: “I’m elated to be here and excited I got through, it’s a real achievement.
“I feel like my cadetting experiences have made me a well-rounded person, so hopefully that helped my application. I’ve also raised quite a bit of money for Help for Heroes earlier this year and work with disadvantaged children at a local school, so maybe it was those things that set me apart.”
Last week she had to get through physical team-building tasks, challenging group debates, strategy tests and interviews, all designed to test the young people’s leadership and management skills in a variety of situations.
The judges are now considering their decision.
One will be crowned the overall CVQO Duke of Westminster Award winner at the House of Lords ceremony on June 30.
Additionally, as part of the four-day event, the cadets gained an ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) Level 3 in Leadership and Management, allowing them to demonstrate their skills to employers and higher education institutions.
The annual event was organised by education charity CVQO and is taking place at Outposts The Adventure Specialist, near Taunton in Somerset.
Guy Horridge, chief executive of CVQO, said: “We expect that the young people taking part in the Duke of Westminster Award are already great cadets.
“What the Award is really about is recognising their altruistic character traits. For example, what have they done for other people? Are they involved in their local community? Have they had to overcome a personal challenge?
“We are looking for those young people who are working hard to achieve their aspirations, overcoming whatever life has thrown at them, building a resilience and determination to succeed.
“As always, the standard is very high and this year we’re thrilled to have representation from the Fire, Police, Army, Air and Sea Cadets. It will be extremely difficult to choose nine finalists at the end of the week.”