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Troy Ice Skating

Troy Wood is 15. He’s studying for GCSEs and has a few hobbies that he’s pretty into – so far, so normal. But, were you to glance at his CV, you might be forgiven for mistaking it for the life of a fictional character.

From becoming a certified rock-climbing instructor to being invited to meet Theresa May at Downing Street, there’s not much Troy hasn’t tried – or succeeded at. And, it was Scouting that started him on this incredible journey of overachievement.

‘I joined Beavers when I was six,’ he explains in a lilting Mancunian accent. As a Beaver, Troy collected every Activity Badge. ‘I was motivated by the experiences I got from doing the badges – I was doing things I wouldn’t normally do,’ he says. When he moved on to Cubs, he started again with another set of badges. The allure of a new challenge was irresistible.

‘I started skating because of the Cub Skater Activity Badge, and now I’ve been doing it for six years,’ Troy explains. ‘I went to the local rink to be taught how to skate, and it turned out I was quite natural at it. It’s something I wouldn’t have considered without doing the badge.’ Now, Troy trains three times per week, and has represented the UK at international figure-skating competitions.

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In 2013, Troy became one of only two Scouts in the country to achieve the Astronautics Activity Badge, sponsored by the UK Space Agency. As a reward, he was invited to the UK Space Conference in Glasgow, where he was presented his badge by an as-yet-unknown trainee astronaut: Tim Peake.

They chatted about Tim’s hopes to go into space, and parted ways until 2014. ‘I saw a competition to design Tim’s mission patch,’ Troy says. This was a cloth patch, sewn onto Tim’s spacesuits, to represent his mission aboard the International Space Station.

‘Because I’d met him and talked to him about him going to space, I thought, “why not enter?”’ Troy says. ‘I remembered some of the things he’d said – like wanting to see the Earth from space – and I incorporated it into the design. Out of 3,000 entries, I ended up winning.’

Troy met Tim again, and filmed a segment of TV show Blue Peter with him at The Science Museum in London. ‘It was absolutely incredible!’ Troy says. It was just the beginning: as soon as Tim blasted off for his six-month mission, the media coverage was near constant. ‘It was surreal – Tim was all over the news and doing interviews in his spacesuit with my patch on his arm,’ Troy says. ‘You could buy my design on t-shirts, bags, pencil cases – all sorts.’

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Troy earned all 74 Scout Activity Badges, collating the evidence in huge scrapbooks and presenting each badge to his leaders as he earned them, developing his confidence and communication skills in the process. He earned kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and powerboating qualifications from the Royal Yacht Association, and is a black belt in karate.

‘I have skills in a whole array of things, thanks to the badges,’ Troy says. ‘Having these qualifications will definitely help me in later life. When you apply to university, it’s not just about results: they want to see what else you’ve done. All of it will definitely help.’

Troy is now an Explorer, and achieving his final set of badges is next on his to-do list, along with getting his GCSEs and picking some A-levels. ‘It’s not something you’d normally get the chance to do,’ he says, contemplating just how much he has packed into a handful of years. ‘It’s been an amazing journey so far.’

This story was originally printed in the December 2016 Issue of Scouting Magazine, which you can download as a PDF or read online.

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