Julie achieved Bronze National Navigation Award

Julie McElroy completed her Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme, (NNAS) earlier this month with her tutor and assessor, Robert Bell.

NNAS (National Navigation Award Scheme) is concerned personal performance, non-competitive and allows participants to gain technical competence in navigation. 

Since May this year, Robert has spent time preparing Julie to complete the Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award Scheme. The National Navigation Award Scheme is a very rigorous in terms of practicality and this was a huge undertaking for Julie.

Robert who lives in Edinburgh and is a qualified NNAS Course Provider and Assessor worked with Julie. He said, ‘Being Julie’s tutor and assessor was an interesting challenge from the start to end. The NNAS programme (assessment) is physically and mentally demanding and I had to bear this in mind when working with Julie.  However after discussing with Julie what she wanted to achieve and what I could offer/do to help her achieve this, then a plan of action was agreed upon’.

Julie who stacked up many accomplishments in the outdoor pursuits says ‘Completing Bronze Level of the National Navigation Award was tough. Due to my disability, I have to use walking sticks while out in the wilderness and my manual dexterity was the biggest of having to hold a map and compass was not easy as it seemed’.

One of the components of completing the National Navigational Award is applying theory into practice. Robert took the challenge and opportunity to take Julie to walk a section of the Pentland Hills in Edinburgh. Robert acknowledged that this navigational component was hard for Julie. He went on to say ‘Julie’s challenge was her disability, being the sheer complexity of her walking gait and of course, her deafness.  Julie can tire quite quickly due to the physical exertion on her body, this meant not only would it be physically demanding but mentally too. However, knowing of Julie’s previous achievements in the outdoor pursuits arena, I knew her determination to succeed would get her through’.

It clear that Julie and Robert had to work in partnership and two words between them were trust and patience.  Robert went onto say ‘I needed Julie to trust and believe that through me, she would gain the NNAS Bronze Navigation award. This I had to achieve from the start and then the assessment, the trust and patience grew from that.

The completion of her latest outdoor award add to her growing list of outdoor accomplishments. Robert is delighted to have played a part in this next chapter with Julie who is moving onto a new phase in her life, he said ‘It means a lot, as, up until now, I had never worked with a person with a disability on the NNAS programme.  From having worked with Julie it has given me a new insight into working with people with disabilities.

Julie relishes another feat had been completed, Robert is too as when asked how more tutors could facilitate opportunities for people with disabilities to complete the National Navigation Award Scheme, he went on to say, ‘If I can convey any message then it would be this, have the confidence, manner, attitude, diligence and enthusiasm to make it enjoyable. Patience is what I would say, a big factor also and take into consideration the person with a disability needs, strengths and weaknesses.  Most of all enjoy it, as the person with disability will.



  1. More information about Julie McElroy, including a short biography, is available at http://www.juliemcelroy.com/

  2. Robert Bell – More information about Robert’s Outdoor remits

  3. NNAS
    National Navigation Award Scheme – learn navigation skills and gain confidence to get out and enjoy the countryside.

  4. Duke of Edinburgh Award
    The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (commonly abbreviated DofE), is an award given for completing a programme of activities that can be undertaken by anyone aged 14 to 24. DofE programmes take between 1 year and 4 years to complete, depending upon the route taken. All programmes must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday. Around 275,000 participants are taking part in their DofE programme at any time in the United Kingdom.