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High achieving St John cadets feted at palace.

TEENAGERS paid a special visit to Buckingham Palace in recognition of their work with St John Wales.

A dozen volunteers from across Wales attended a Young Achievers Reception hosted by Princess Anne for gaining their Grand Prior award - the highest accolade available to cadets.

It marks at least three years of sustained effort studying 24 different subjects, including working in the community, outdoor pursuits and first aid.

Daniel Westwood, 16, from Pontllanfraith, Caerphilly, said it was a "fantastic" experience.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget - it was amazing," he said.

Sian Mather, 17, from Cardiff, said she was "privileged" to be given the opportunity to meet the Princess Royal.

"By volunteering I feel like I'm giving something back to the community. Volunteering has made me the confident person I am today," she said.

Maesteg volunteer Thomas Evans, 16, said: "It was a different and exciting opportunity which I wouldn't have had if I wasn't a volunteer with St John."

Ruthin member Kathryn Williamson, 16, has been a volunteer for 10 years and is in the process of completing her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award with St John Wales. "Volunteering gives me the satisfaction that I am giving something back to the community," she said.

"The best thing about St John is the life skills that you gain and the friends that you gain. Awards like the Grand Prior are invaluable for gaining life experience - I would recommend it to others to broaden their horizons."

Damian Thomas, director of youth for St John Wales, said: "The reception was a great way to recognise the commitment and outstanding work of these young people.

"They have all proven themselves as exceptional individuals and we are thrilled they had the opportunity to meet Princess Anne and enjoy the surroundings of Buckingham Palace for the day."

About 85 young people were invited to Buckingham Palace to represent St John from across the country.

St John Wales has a vibrant and growing youth membership, with 60% of its 4,900 volunteers under the age of 18. The charity is committed to offering young people a wide range of opportunities and organises a series of national events every year.

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* A dozen volunteers from across Wales attended a Young Achievers Reception hosted by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace for achieving their Grand Prior award - the highest accolade available to St John cadets
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 5, 2012
Words:400
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