Prince Philip awards former Whistler student 

Blake Jamieson presented with a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award

In a ballroom at Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, tensions and expectations were high on Monday morning.

The air was heavy with a nervous excitement. The crowded room breathed in collective quiet anticipation.

Friends and families of 131 outstanding young people from British Columbia and the Yukon gathered for a special presentation, honouring their unique achievements.

And bestowing the honour was none other than His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Among the recipients of this year’s Gold Duke of Edinburgh award was a nervous Blake Jamieson, graduate of the Whistler Secondary School, class of 2002.

"I didn’t think I would be (nervous) but... his presence is felt. You definitely know when he’s in the room," Jamieson said.

The recipients were versed in royal etiquette for about 20 minutes prior to meeting the Prince.

They were told to wait until the Prince spoke before speaking to him. They were told to wait until the Prince extended his hand before putting theirs forward. And they were told to address him as Your Royal Highness the first time and thereafter as Sir.

The Prince made his way down the line of recipients, shaking each of their hands and presenting them with certificates.

"He was really personable," said Jamieson.

The Prince asked Jamieson if he had travelled abroad to fulfil part of his Duke of Edinburgh requirements.

He replied that he had been training with the Nor-Am ski team in Austria and New Zealand as part of his credits.

"He seemed a little bit interested in ski racing," said Jamieson.

Sitting next to Jamieson was a girl who had been waiting for five years for this day.

She finished her Duke of Edinburgh requirements in 1998 and had to wait for the next Royal visit to get her award from Prince Philip, said Jamieson.

The former Whistler Secondary School student, who moved to Whistler for his last year of high school to concentrate on his ski racing, completed the requirements for the Gold Award earlier this summer.

He first heard about the Duke of Edinburgh program from his mom who is a teacher.

One of her classes was taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh awards and she asked her son if he would be interested too.

"I think it fit into my lifestyle," he said.

There are four components to the gold award, according to Fiona Milne, administrative assistant at the Duke of Edinburgh awards office of the B.C.-Yukon division.

These include service, expedition, skills and physical recreation requirements. There is also a requirement to complete a residential project.

"The (award) is designed to be uniquely tailored to each person," said Milne.

Under service requirements participants are asked to volunteer for a minimum of 60 hours over the course of a year.

Jamieson’s service hours as a volunteer ski racing coach tallied up to 193 hours over the year.

"Service to others is a huge component, where you show that you can give back into the community," said Milne.

He also used his ski racing to fill his residential project requirement, which involves going somewhere new, testing fresh boundaries, for at least five days and four nights.

Jamieson went to Nor-Am training camps in New Zealand and Austria and filled this requirement.

"I’m judging that he has a great love of skiing," said Milne.

For the expedition requirement Jamieson went horseback riding through the Rockies.

"What they do is go somewhere to challenge themselves physically, emotionally and mentally," said Milne.

Under skills he used his creative writing and submitted pieces of his prose and poetry with his application.

And under physical requirements he needed 50 hours over 25 weeks. Instead he fulfilled 214 hours over 53 weeks with things like golf, scuba diving and aerobic running.

After handing out the certificates, the Prince gave a speech to the recipients urging them to continue on the path they started while striving for the Duke of Edinburgh award.

Lt-Gov. Iona Campagnolo introduced Prince Philip at the awards.

"He was very, very adamant that although we obtained the highest in the Duke of Edinburgh, it still wasn’t over," said Jamieson.

"You can tell that he has tried to live his life that way."

Jamieson graduated from Whistler Secondary School this year with $9,500 in scholarship money.

He is currently studying sciences at UBC and getting comfortable at the library.

"I think it’s going to get progressively tougher," he said.

The award presentation was one of the many public functions for the Queen and Prince Philip while on the Golden Jubilee tour of Canada.

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