‘Prince Philip called me one of his golden oldies’

SKILLS learned while completing her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award are still practiced today by the first person in the Bailiwick to receive the gold award.

Elizabeth Laine [nee Le Tissier] went to Buckingham Palace and was presented with her certificate and badge by the Duke himself, who died last Friday aged 99.

Born in the UK just after her parents evacuated, Mrs Laine returned to Guernsey with her family in 1945.

She was educated at Castel Primary School before going to the Girls’ Intermediate School, now the Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre.

After leaving school at 16, she helped her parents in the corner shop that they ran and began her work towards the bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1959.

‘Because it was a new thing then, nobody really had any standards of what had to be attained,’ she said.

‘In those days you had to finish the gold award by the time you were 20, which I did in December 1960, but I was married by then so was very lucky to be able to have my parents and husband come to the palace with me.’

From make-up and hairdressing to cookery and dress making, Mrs Laine and the three other girls taking part learned a whole host of new skills.

One of her fondest memories was being able to travel to Wales to complete a residential course, which put her in good stead to run a guest house with her husband for some 30 years.

Looking back through the record book that she kept, she remembered an expedition to Herm where she and the other girls had to pack provisions and tents for a couple of days and endured a pretty heavy thunderstorm on the first night.

‘My sister was on the course with me, as well as Beryl Renouf, who was the second person in the Bailiwick to receive the gold award, and Susan Salisbury, who was the third,’ she said.

‘It was a only a few years afterwards that the first boy in the Bailiwick achieved his gold.’

Standing in the white and gold ballroom of Buckingham Palace, Mrs Laine remembered the Duke of Edinburgh presenting badges to the women which were ‘much nicer and more decorative’ than those received by the men. ‘We felt very lucky to have such nice ones. I’ve kept all of the photos, press clippings, badges and certificates safe all these years,’ she said.

Later on, she met the Duke again in Guernsey outside St Peter Port School, where he called all the gold award winners his ‘golden oldies’.

‘It’s a shame he’s gone, but I do think it’s great that Prince Edward will carry on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. I remember that time very fondly and feel quite proud to be the first person to attain the gold award in the Bailiwick.’

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