A HARTLEPOOL woman can look back on a day of golden memories after meeting with Royalty.
Rachel Carroll, 20, from the Fens area, collected her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award at St James Palace and got to meet the Duke himself - just weeks before he was admitted to hospital for an exploratory operation on his abdomen.
He spend his 92nd birthday in hospital and will spend two months convalescing once he leaves.
Rachel’s meeting with him, and collecting her honour, marked the culmination of seven combined years of striving to achieve the award which included a six-week expedition on the tall ship Black Diamond of Durham, doing volunteer work at Hartlepool & District Hospice and the same in different departments of the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Rachael’s mum Carole Carroll, 48, said: “I am so proud of her. She puts every bit of effort in to everything she does.”
Carole, who works as a nursery nurse at Rossmere Primary School, and who is also mum to 13-year-old Emma - a pupil at Manor College of Technology - said: “Rachel is the sort of person who will always have a go at something.”
Rachel was accompanied by her father Andrew Carroll, 49, on her trip to St James’s Palace, in London, and said the highlight of her day was meeting the Duke.
The intrepid Hartlepool woman built up to the gold honour by progressing through the bronze and silver awards first.
She spent one year on volunteering at the University Hospital of Hartlepool shop and another at the hospital cafe.
She did another year doing voluntary work at the hospice and two years in dance and exercise.
She also spent two years volunteering at a dog training school.
Her mum said Rachel also had various expeditions and camping to complete.
Rachel, a former Hartlepool Sixth Form College student, added: “The most enjoyable residential experience was my gold.
“I represented Hartlepool in The Tall Ships Races of 2010 on board the Black Diamond of Durham and was away for six weeks.
“Doing the Duke of Edinburgh makes you more independent but it also gives you pride and satisfaction in helping others.”