A YOUNG Calne woman who was not expect to live past the age of five is off to Buckingham Palace to collect her Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.

Kathryn Marygold’s parents Carla and Richard were told she would never walk or talk, but the 22-year-old’s determination has proved everyone wrong.

She is a day student at National Star, a specialist college for young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties in Gloucestershire. Her parents drive her back and forth to college every day. Kathryn has Worster-Drought Syndrome, a type of cerebral palsy that affects muscles around the mouth and throat, as well as epilepsy and autism.

While there Kathryn learned about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and decided she wanted to take part. During her four years at college she has completed all three levels and is one of three National Star students attending the ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 22. “When I first asked about the awards I was told that I couldn’t do them because of my disabilities. Then at National Star they said I could and I wanted to prove that I could,” she said. Kathryn completed a Reach Outdoors residential course with non-disabled peers in Devon.

“I chose that course because it involved non-disabled people and I thought it would be more of a challenge for me. It was hard to begin with but at the end of the week they chose me as being inspirational.”

She was also a volunteer for an animal club at National Star.

The students’ expedition was to look at accessibility in stately home gardens and make recommendations. “I have known Kathryn for three years since she joined the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award group and have watched her develop and mature, from a shy, uncertain and slightly awkward student, to a confident and independent young woman who knows her own mind,” said Richard Brand, DofE Award co-ordinator at National Star. “She has demonstrated true grit in achieving this prestigious award.”

Kathryn admits she is a bit of a daredevil and loves rock climbing, the zip wire and indoor skydiving. “She’s pretty amazing. She won’t let anyone tell her that she can’t do something. She’s proven everyone wrong,” said Carla. “I can’t get over the daughter I have now.”

Kathryn will attend the awards with her personal assistant Imogen, who has been supporting her for five years. The two have already been dress shopping and will celebrate with a meal out after the ceremony.