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Duke of Edinburgh Award alumni pay tribute after Prince Philip’s passing

Duke of Edinburgh award
Buckingham Palace flying the Union flag at half mast today. Image credit: Marino Unger-Verna

Following the passing of HRH Prince Philip, an enduring cornerstone of his legacy, often mentioned during national commemorations, remains the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Since its establishment in 1956, around 6.7 million people have benefitted from this once-in-a-lifetime experience developing life skills.

As the late Duke of Edinburgh said, “The Award Scheme has had an influence far beyond the people who’ve taken part in it, in the sense that it’s liberalised the educational system. People have tended to recognise that education is more than just reading and writing”.

Roar received heart-warming responses to a request for tributes from some of its alumni. 

Ria Patel serves as KCL St John Ambulance Society’s Duke of Edinburgh Award officer, and is in second year Psychology. She said “I really enjoyed completing DofE [silver and gold during high school]” with the “peaceful and beautiful wild camping” being a particular highlight. She elaborated by saying, “It helped me connect to my local community through volunteering [in Mind charity shop] and strengthen my relationships with friends on the expedition. DofE provides an invaluable experience, allowing young people to develop new and existing skills, whilst connecting people with nature and the outdoors, which is something that is often neglected when you live in a large city. Regardless of my personal views on the royal family, I can’t imagine losing a partner after 73 years of marriage. My condolences to the Royal Family and the Queen”.

Another student reminiscing and paying tribute is Bogdan Pietroșanu, a History and French third year student at KCL. He fondly recalls the DofE gold award (expedition, volunteering and skill) in his penultimate year of school in 2017, which was originally intended as an impromptu trip with five friends. “Thinking back, for me personally it was important because it really helped me develop as a person and prove certain things to myself. I was so proud when I was walking the last kilometre on the last day knowing I’d actually finished it. On top of that, working towards the award helped me find a new hobby in squash, made me persevere with playing the guitar”.

He mentions, “Due to the Duke of Edinburgh Award I ended up volunteering for a charity [Hospices of Hope in Romania] that I loved so much I kept volunteering at for 3 years… the rest of it helped me make new friends, find new interests and discover a charity that I was so passionate about, which would not have happened otherwise. I’d want to thank him for making this award and I hope he knew how much he meant to so many people in the UK and of course condolences to the Royal family”.

Noah Eastwood, a second year War studies student, did the silver award, and said, “expeditions were the highlight of the award and gave us an unparalleled sense of freedom to be out in the open countryside [in the Chilterns]. I gained experience volunteering in the CCF which fostered my respect and duty to the community. These are important values which the Duke embodied in his public life that should serve as an example to us all in selflessness and altruism”.

Angel Huang, a third year Economic History student at the LSE recalls great memories with her six school friends when completing the DofE Gold Award in Snowdonia National Park.  “Thank you to Prince Philip for founding this scheme and providing so many great memories to look back on. I remember the look on the instructors’ faces when we said we had never attempted any of the other awards but went straight to Gold: they had no faith in us and we were almost about to be sent home for how unserious and unprepared we were. However, we shocked both the instructors and ourselves when we completed the full expedition a day early. Despite how cold and painful it was, I will always look back fondly at the days spent in the Welsh mountains singing badly to many great playlists and eating instant noodles and lemon cake (which were not actually allowed) by the campfire”.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award’s website is inviting memories from past participants in the initiative. Its press release read: “one of The Duke’s most remarkable achievements and is woven into the fabric of the UK, equipping and empowering young people from all communities to build the skills, confidence, and resilience they need to make the most out of life and make a difference to the world around them.”

Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award said: “The Duke’s timeless vision for young people has never been more relevant or needed. The DofE has played a crucial role in supporting young people to survive and thrive despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, and we will continue to build on his legacy.

“The Duke was a lifelong advocate for young people, believing in each individual’s potential and creating in the DofE what he saw as a ‘do-it-yourself growing up kit’. We’re honoured to continue HRH’s work, to ensure that all young people – especially those from marginalised groups – can benefit from the better educational outcomes, employment prospects, community ties and better mental health that are associated with doing DofE.”

Nostalgic memories of the DofE Award were messaged from alumni on social media, from many ages and all over the United Kingdom.

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