Boots fund makes Duke of Edinburgh possible for Devon students

DPA sets up ‘Moor Boots’ fund to provide Devon students with high-quality walking boots.
A delighted group of Devon students are benefitting from a new fund that has been established to provide high-quality walking boots for Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants.
The ‘Moor Boots’ fund, set up by the Dartmoor Preservation Association, means that the students, aged 14-17, will be able to comfortably complete their upcoming Duke of Edinburgh Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.  
The pilot scheme, which is being run in conjunction with Westlands School in Torbay, has a total funding pot of £600, and assuming the initiative is successful and the DPA can lever the expected match-funding, the figure will increase to £3,000 in 2015.  Student Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups based close to Dartmoor who meet the association’s criteria for financial assistance will then be able to get high-quality boots without having to worry about the expense.
The students from Westlands whPGLo are currently benefitting have just had their boots custom-fitted at Costwold Outdoors, based at Darts Farm in Topsham, where they were encouraged to walk up inclines, jump in their boots and taught how to correctly tie them up. ß
“I’m so grateful to DPA for the help they’ve given us,” said 16-year-old Jordan Brennan.  “I’ve had boots before, but they’re old, ill-fitting and not appropriate for serious walking.  My new boots are perfect though.  They’re comfortable, excellent quality and fit high up my ankle, so my ankles are supported and won’t be bare to the wind. 
“Before I found out that I’d received the funding, I was going to borrow a different-sized pair off my uncle.  Now, I know that my feet will be comfy and it’s taken the worry of finding good boots away, so I can concentrate on preparing for my expedition.” 
And Jordan isn’t the only one who is delighted with the boots.  15-year-old Sian Lyden – an avid walker – also received the ‘VIP boot-fitting treatment’.  She said: “I do a lot of physical activity and love walking, but I’ve never had boots professional fitted before.  The process was so interesting and I now have an amazing pair of boots that fit me perfectly and will last for ages.
“Doing Duke of Edinburgh costs a lot, and it all adds up – from buying good quality waterproofs and a stove to getting hold of a sleeping bag and a mat.  I’ve had to fundraise hard and borrow for the rest of my kit – so not having to find the money boots is one less thing to worry about.”
The funding initiative was set up after Westlands teachers Fiona Darby and Lucy Atkins met James Paxman from the DPA in Princetown. With standard equipment for the expedition costing around £400 per student, James was anxious to help in-need students benefit from the experience that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme offers.  After coming up with a funding plan with Fiona and Lucy the DPA trustees assessed the proposal and were delighted to help.
”This has been a real lifeline for our students,” said Fiona, “and a real boost for them in the lead up to their practice expeditions. In the past, Westlands staff have lent our students their own personal equipment, which is far from ideal. The hope is that the initiative will run for the next five years and I truly believe it will help more Westlands students to benefit from the valuable experience that the DofE provides and ultimately enjoy years of walking on Dartmoor.”
In all, 27 Westland students are undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh’s expeditions this year.  13 are doing the Bronze Award, with a final expedition around Torbay; 13 are doing the Silver Award, with a final expedition on Dartmoor; and the six students doing the Gold Award will complete their final expedition on the Isle of Man after training on Dartmoor.  
James Paxman, Chief Executive at the Dartmoor Preservation Society, said: “At the DPA we believe passionately that young people should get the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Dartmoor and learn how to explore and appreciate the outdoors in a responsible manner.  To ensure this happens, good quality kit– particularly boots – are essential, as they reduce the risk of injury and blisters, ensure walkers are comfortable, and they can last for years to come.  
“And that’s basically how the idea started.  We had a simple idea: to ‘put boots on the feet of young people’ – young people who may one day be members of the DPA and who might otherwise miss the opportunity to experience Dartmoor.  Our trustees were right behind the initiative from the start, supporting the pilot scheme immediately.
“It’s wonderful to know that we are helping young people to experience what Dartmoor has to offer, and we intend to ensure that this programme can continue for years to come.  This initiative is something that we will hopefully not only be offering to Westlands students, but also to students from other schools within the area, following this initial pilot run.”
Notes to Editors 
About Westland School
Westlands School is a secondary school in the Plainmoor district of Torbay, Devon, for children aged between 11 and 18.  It has more than 1,400 students.
Following an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted assessment in 2013, Acting Head Teacher Lyndsey Kane took over the reins with an ethos of ‘relentlessly pursuing academic excellence’. Consequently, a recent visit by HMI inspectors (in March 2014) has noted vast improvements  at the school over recent months. 
Westlands School cares passionately about removing the barriers that can stand in the way of a good education and the school has a mission to help each child not only reach their potential but also leave school fully ready for the next stage in life’s journey.
About the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA)
Founded in 1883, the Dartmoor Preservation Association is an independent member organisation that helps to look after Dartmoor.  Its members are active in helping to preserve artefacts, improve habitats and maintain a watchful eye on proposed development in the area.
The DPA has a strong and close relationship with the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DPNA) and seeks to act in the capacity of “critical friend”. Through its relationships with the national park authority and many other local organisations it influences the formulation of policy to manage Dartmoor and participate in actions to conserve its special qualities for posterity. The DPA became a registered charity in 1963.


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