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Pair took the ‘right step’ and earn Raleigh awards

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Character development: Keisha Butterfield and Andrea Burrows hope their time with the Raleigh programme in Borneo will inspire others to take the plunge

Two graduates of an adventure training scheme have won awards for their commitment.

Keisha Butterfield was given the Malcolm K Outerbridge Transformation Award and Andrea Burrows picked up the Michael J Spurling Award from Raleigh Bermuda.

Now Ms Butterfield, 19, and Ms Burrows, 20, hope their stories from the character-building youth charity will inspire others to take the plunge.

Ms Butterfield, of Southampton, said she was “shocked and thankful” to be honoured as “the person who has had the most transformative experience, put their foot in, and decided this is what they’re going to do”.

Ms Burrows, of Pembroke, added that “to be recognised for all that hard work was an amazing feeling”.

The pair travelled to Borneo, Malaysia in 2017 on a Raleigh expedition. Ms Butterfield said she hoped to journey abroad a second time next year.

She added: “I’m still figuring out how to do what intrigues me most, I’m interested in writing and film. I’m in college right now and once I graduate, I plan on university.”

Ms Butterfield said her life felt “stuck and stagnant” when she first heard about Raleigh.

She said: “My life was one big routine. Raleigh is perfect to take that step to better yourself.

“Pre-Raleigh Keisha and post-Raleigh Keisha are two different people. I will for ever be thankful for the experience.”

Ms Butterfield added that trekking in Borneo and community service work in remote communities “broke me out of the shell that I tended to stay in”.

She said: “My trek was where I knew physically and mentally how strong I was. It’s mind over matter, and you’re stronger than you think.”

Ms Burrows said her father introduced her to Raleigh as a way to “step outside my comfort zone”.

She said: “I took it upon myself to go to their office and hear about it. I was going through a tough time. I knew this would push me and to do something positive. I made that life-changing decision to sign up.”

She spent ten weeks of last summer in Borneo, like Ms Butterfield. She said: “I was ready, I wasn’t intimidated. I was determined to push myself and see what this programme had to offer. I met a lot of people, discovered a lot about myself, and found out that I was more than capable of doing more than I thought I was.”

Ms Burrows added she was a mentor to the 2018 Raleigh venturers, who have gone to Tanzania, Africa, and the Himalayan country of Nepal. She said she was applying for college in January to take up nursing and hoped to join the police service.

Tina Nash, executive director of Raleigh Bermuda, said the island now had 150-plus graduates of the scheme.

She added: “It’s been growing since 2005 and we’re developing more projects and programmes for our alumni to get involved.

“We’re at a point as a charity where we’ll hiring a co-ordinator to take our alumni programme to the next level.”

The programme was designed for youngsters aged between 17 and 24 and to give them “challenge, change and a way to transform their lives”.

The Malcolm K Outerbridge Award is named after a model Raleigh alumnus who was murdered, aged 18, in 2011, while the Michael J Spurling Award was set up in tribute to the founder of the programme’s Bermuda branch.

Ms Nash added that Raleigh Bermuda would recruit a new group of young Bermudians for the 2019 programme at the end of this year.

She said: “They have an incredible amount to offer to themselves and their community.”

Other side of the world: Bermudians Keisha Butterfield and Andrea Burrows describe a personal transformation through Raleigh Programme in Borneo
In Borneo: Keisha Butterfield
In Borneo: Andrea Burrows