A scout has battled against the odds to gain his gold award.
Ben Thompson of Broom was born with Down’s Syndrome and he has struggled to read and write all his life.
But the 15-year-old member of the Henlow Clifton Scout Group has just received his Chief Scout Gold Award.
Ben’s mother, Janice Thompson, said: “It was quite a big achievement because it’s really improved his ability to do things independently.
“I can’t fault the scout group. They have been amazing helping him. I can’t say how grateful I am to the leaders.”
Ben, of The Woodlands, needs help with his school work but he is able to be independent as a scout.
He joined beavers when he was six and at first his father had to attend with him to assist – but now Ben is able to carry out the tasks with a great degree of autonomy.
Janice never imagined he would get this far with the scouts. She said: “It’s given him a great deal of confidence. He was really chuffed with the award and really happy.”
To gain the Chief Scout Gold Award Ben had to complete a series of practical tasks as well as community work.
He was joined in his success by Letchworth friend, 14-year-old Aaron Davidson.
Activities included scuba diving and kayaking for their adventure challenge and developing skills with saws, knives and axes to allow them to live outdoors.
The pair learnt to read maps so they could compete in the Biggleswade District 24 hour challenge hike.
Additionally they performed by camp fires and on stage for their creative challenge and showed new scouts how to tie knots during their promise challenge. They also tidied the churchyards at the parish churches in Clifton and Henlow.
The certificates were presented to the boys by Biggleswade district commissioner, Jan Brooker, during a special ceremony at the group’s headquarters in Henlow. Scout leader Sarah Panton said: “It’s a very impressive list. I’m proud of both of them.”
Ben was a student at Samuel Whitbread Academy in Clifton until July, transferring to the Ivel Valley School unit at Stratton Upper School in Biggleswade at the start of the academic year.
As well as settling into his new school Ben also finds time to enjoy drama and dance. He will be competing in the 2014 U Dance contest with his special needs dance group.
Ben has now moved on to the Explorer Scout group to take on new challenges.