Most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, are familiar with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme, and understand how significant receiving the Gold Award is. The ceremony is usually held in St James’s Palace, as the DofE committee feel that this grand setting befits the importance of this occasion.
Just this month, hundreds of young people from all over the UK travelled to London, to collect their Gold awards at the palace. They received their certificates from Anthea Turner and Prince Edward, both of whom spent a few minutes speaking to each of the recipients about their experiences. Anthea spoke at length with one girl in particular – Hannah Holden from Milton Keynes. Hannah undertook two expeditions in Wales, during which she walked an average of 20 kilometres a day, whilst carrying all of her supplies – including food rations and a hefty tent – in a rucksack.
The expedition she chose consisting of ‘wild camping’, which involves making do with what you can find around you; for instance, Hannah had to source her drinking water from streams. In addition to her expeditions, she spent time in the Peak district on an adventure and conservation course, and also learned to dance, sing and play the guitar. Having had such a wonderful experience herself, Hannah is now hoping to become a DofE leader, and help other youngsters to complete their own bronze, silver and gold awards.
A significant number of the attendees at the awards event hailed from Lancashire, and had completed their gold activities with the help of the Lancashire County Council. One young man by the name of Ciaran Bassey got involved with the DofE programme after joining the Explorer Scouts Unit. To achieve his Gold, he spent just over a year working as a volunteer leader with the Scouts, and went on a residential trip with a group of his peers.
Four students from Queen’s College in Somerset were also in attendance; these included Hope Pointing, Hannah Clarke, Abi Sanders-Dutton and Richard Venn. The headmaster of their school came to the event to support them, and spoke to the press about their achievements. He stated that he and the rest of the staff were very proud of what the four teens had managed to accomplish, adding that it had taken a great deal of commitment to complete the bronze, silver and gold activities. He finished by saying that the students had clearly benefitted from their time within the DofE programme; not only had they developed friendships and created wonderful memories, but they had also become far more confident in themselves as a result of their expeditions and residential work. This is why people such as Tunde Folawiyo like to support youth development schemes; they help young people, who are at a very important stage in their lives, to develop the skills and the tenacity needed to achieve their goals.