Keeley Grevatt, a Challenge 2000 Youth Worker and former Gap Year student (2016) will represent New Zealand as a Defence Force Youth Ambassador at this year’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Passchendaele, on 12 October 2017.
In 2016 Keeley attended the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) programme, a six-week motivational, personal development programme run by the New Zealand Defence Force.
Building upon her experience at Challenge 2000, Keeley utilized her time as LSV to grow in the areas of team building, time management and the assessment of her own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others. “We all found it difficult and had to lean on each other because of it. I couldn’t have done the journey without the other trainees,” acknowledged Keeley when thinking about how a deeper appreciation of other people’s stories became one of her biggest gains at LSV.
She completed the course with a “Peer’s Choice Award” for her commitment and teamwork within her platoon, the “Top Trainee of the Platoon Award”, as well as the “Patron’s Choice Award”. This is the award for the top trainee for the whole company. Keeley recalls, “It was such an honour to march the whole company off the parade grounds. It was an experience I will never forget. I cried a lot, my dad cried, my whole family cried a lot… It was such an overwhelming, humbling experience to be called up to accept all these awards. Challenge 2000 turned up in big numbers on my graduation day and I was happy to see familiar faces after a long 6 weeks. I felt very,very lucky. I am really grateful for everyone that came to celebrate my graduation day with me.”
The journey did not stop there. Earlier this year, Keeley received a call that she had been nominated as the Youth Ambassador for New Zealand and that, if successful in being selected, she would travel to Belgium alongside the NZDF to commemorate the battle of Passchendaele at The New Zealand National Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele. Thus began another step in the Journey as Keeley soon embarks on this opportunity of a lifetime.
Our new Youth Ambassador will arrive at the Ohakea Air Force Training Base on September 25, for a 5-day training programme where she will spend time with the other 14 youth ambassadors and Defence Force personnel whom she is travelling with as they prepare for the trip away. “I feel so fortunate to have been chosen to go on this trip and experience everything that it entails. I really want to emphasise the reason behind this incredible opportunity I’ve been given– and that is the Battle of Passchendaele. New Zealand is such a small country and to think that thousands of our young soldiers, as many as 845 New Zealanders were killed and over 2000 wounded in a single day. The loss of so many lives and the effect of their loss and pain on those at home is no small matter. The whole of New Zealand was affected by this tragedy. So was my own family. We had a number of family members who fought in this battle. This time is part of our history as a nation and can teach us many lessons.”
While on leave from Challenge 2000, Keeley’s journey will lead her across Australia, Dubai and Greece before arriving in Belgium where she will spend several weeks. It’s all fuel for a young woman’s dream to join the Defence Force as an Officer in the Army and the hard work ahead of her is only making her more determined. “This just goes to show how being open to doors of opportunity willingly, can lead you to amazing places that you never even dreamed of walking to and through. To think that I started out as a Gap Year student at Challenge 2000 only a year ago is so surreal.”
Challenge 2000 is incredibly proud to have an inspiring young woman like Keeley as part of our whanau and we celebrate her success and development.
We look forward to hearing Keeley’s stories and to have the lives of those who served and died at Passchendaele remembered and honoured at Challenge 2000, one hundred years later.
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou./ We will remember them.