A TEENAGER from Chipping Sodbury has won a tough national competition to take part in a three-week adventure in South Africa.

Eloise Robertson has been named one of nine CVQO Duke of Westminster finalists who will travel to the subs-Saharan country on the educational expedition where she will undertake environmental and social projects and become immersed in the local culture.

The 17-year-old member of the 2509 Chipping Sodbury Squadron Air Cadets had to complete several challenging rounds in the competition including a four-day selection event in the Quantock Hills, Somerset which tested their communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

From attempting to balance each group on a giant see-saw through to creating an evacuation plan from a country facing a hostile invasion and racing to completing the gun-run challenge, the cadets faced a variety of demanding mental and physical tasks, earning a CVQO-led Level 3 qualification in Leadership from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) in the process.

Eloise, a pupil at Yate International Academy, was a regional finalist after being handpicked from over 400 initial cadet nominees. The number of regional finalists competing increased from 21 to 24 this year, making the challenge to secure a sought-after place in the final nine even greater.

Guy Horridge, CVQO chief executive, said: "This year's selection event has been the closest run contest so far, with some excellent cadets making it through to the final 24 in Somerset.

“We are confident that the lucky nine will have a fantastic experience in South Africa and wish them the very best of luck with the expedition."

Eloise said: "I'm enjoying being in a new situation with the other cadets and although only nine will get to South Africa, the 24 of us will be friends forever."

CVQO is a UK-based educational charity that has been changing lives through vocational training and development since 2001