How Nathaniel Forbes, one of Cayman’s rising elite cyclists, discovered his cycling talent through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Programme
Four years ago, in 2018, 15-year-old Nathaniel Forbes began his journey in The Duke of Edinburgh International Award programme while a student at John Gray High School (JGHS). There, he enrolled in the JGHS Duke Unit and committed to doing the following to meet the requirements for his Bronze Award:
• Voluntary Service: Volunteering at the Red Cross Thrift Shop for 3-6 hours every Saturday. (He was named the Red Cross Youth Volunteer in 2019)
• Physical Recreation: Cycling
• Skill: Bicycle repair
Unsure of what to do for his Physical Recreation portion, he followed the advice of his Form Tutor and decided to try cycling. Not long after, as he began putting in the hours required for the programme, he was spotted by Jerome Ameline riding his Huffy along South Church Street and the rest, as they say, is history.
On finishing high school, he enrolled in the Certificate in Electrical Technology at UCCI and while there began working towards the Silver Award. His dedication and commitment to the Award Programme as well as to his studies did not go unnoticed, and soon his diligence began opening new doors for Nathaniel. In June 2019, he was chosen to hear Grammy-nominated gospel singer, Jekalyn Carr at the Cayman Islands Grand Court Youth Convocation.
Under the guidance of his cycling coach (Jerome Ameline) and through his commitment to training and developing the skills required, Nathaniel steadily progressed from amateur to professional cyclist and was selected to represent the Cayman Islands at several international cycling competitions over the last few years: In August 2021 he competed in the Dominican Republic Caribbean Championships. Later that year he traveled to Cali, Columbia for the Junior Pan American Games. Locally, in April of this year he cycled the Queen’s Baton into East End as a member of the Queen’s Baton Relay to help generate awareness and excitement across the Cayman Islands for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Most recently, in May 2022, Nathaniel competed in the Pan American Road Cycling Championships in San Juan, Argentina.
Having attained both his Bronze and Silver Awards, Nathaniel is now working towards his Gold Award whilst completing his Associates Degree in electrical engineering at UCCI.
When asked about how he manages school work when traveling overseas to competitions Nathaniel had this to say: “Balancing school with training and cycling can be difficult at times. The sport of cycling requires a lot of time when you are aiming to constantly improve. In college I have a GPA to maintain so I have to find the time to get work done, so staying up all night after training is nothing strange to me.”
Nathaniel added that the DofE Award programme has helped him to become a better, more well-rounded individual. “It has made me explore outside my comfort zone and try new things, for example public speaking. In this programme you learn the importance of teamwork and communication skills.” The members of the Duke of Edinburgh Cayman National Committee are extremely proud of Nathaniel, his achievements and stellar commitment to all that he does and are looking forward to his continued successes. It is their hope that many other young people will be inspired by his story to join The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and follow through from Bronze to the Gold Award.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is the world’s leading youth award recognizing and celebrating young people’s achievements outside of the school/academic setting. This is done by encouraging young people to learn new skills, be physically active, volunteer within their community and discover a sense of adventure through undertaking an adventurous journey. As they do so, young people develop life skills and become committed global citizens. Since it was founded by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1956, over eight million people have participated in the Award in over 144 countries and territories. The goal of the organisation is for every young person aged 14 to 25 in the world to have the opportunity to participate in the Award.