The importance of the DofE leaders’ role in the programme cannot be understated; without the guidance and encouragement which they offer the young participants, the number of people who finish all of the tasks would be considerably lower. As well as supporting the overall mission of the DofE, these leaders also have a number of practical responsibilities, such as helping to run the DofE centres, and offering advice to participants who may be struggling with specific aspects of each task.
Depending on their area of expertise, a leader may be involved with the Expedition, Skills, Physical or Volunteering section at the Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels. It is their job to inspire and support participants, as well as to approve their activity choices, and monitor their progress. As an assessor, they must be DofE accredited, and approved by the relevant licensed organisation. Supporters of this programme including Tunde Folawiyo understand that a leader’s supervisory responsibilities are of particular importance; they must be experienced in the activity selected by each participant, and must carve time out of their schedule to check on the participant’s progress, adjust their goals and help them to address any issues which they might be facing. Leaders in a supervisory role are actively involved in the Expedition section of each level; it is their job to attend these excursions, and ensure that the participants stay on track, and remain safe whilst carrying out the required tasks.
Much of the work carried out by these leaders is done on a voluntary basis; it is because of this selfless support, and the contributions of Fellows of the Duke of Edinburgh Fellowship, including Tunde Folawiyo, that the DofE is able to continue to nurture and support young people around the world. Just recently, a teacher from New Zealand, by the name of Helen-May Burgess, was the recipient of a special award from the programme.
The committee wanted to honour this woman, who had been helping her students with their DofE tasks for over 27 years. Burgess has worked at St Hilda’s Collegiate College for decades, offering her expertise and advice to DofE participants, in addition to teaching at the school on a full-time basis. For her years of dedicated service to the programme, Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Governor General, presented her with a framed certificate at a ceremony held in the city of Dunedin. Over the course of almost three decades, Burgee mentored hundreds of young participants, and supervised 23 students as they completed all of their tasks at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.