Jay Passmore is a former member of the DofE programme, who received his Gold Award in October of last year. Today, he has his dream job, working within the fostering service in Devon. However, life was not always quite so happy for Jay; he had a tumultuous, difficult childhood. From the age of ten and upwards, he was passed from one foster care home to another, never being given the chance to settle down and have a normal upbringing.
Most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, understand how important it is for young people to have stability in their lives; the absence of this led to Jay becoming very rebellious. However, when he turned 17 and left foster care, he began to look at his life from a different perspective. Unsure of what his next step should be, he chose to start helping other youngsters who were still in the system, by working as a volunteer for a foster child support group. It was whilst in this position that Jay became aware of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Other people in the group had already become involved, and he decided that he should do the same.
Despite feeling somewhat apprehensive about taking on such a monumental task, he ignored his worries and signed up. Jay now says that it was this decision which changed the course of his life. It allowed him to develop important new skills, find friends with similar interests, and perhaps most importantly, it gave him the confidence he needed to apply for his current job.
Over the course of his time with the DofE, he managed to raise enough money to travel to South Africa for his expedition and residential activities. During these trips, he worked with a Zulu tribe, camped out in a rainforest and learned about the importance of teamwork, as he had to spend a total of three weeks with a group of strangers.
Those who are familiar with the DofE programme, like Tunde Folawiyo, will be aware that the organisation arranges a celebratory awards ceremony for those who have completed their Gold level activities. Jay received his award at St. James’ Palace last year; afterwards, he was publically interviewed by the DofE’s communications manager, who asked him to discuss his experience of the programme,
Jay spoke of his difficult childhood, of how the Award had changed him, and of his goals for the future. After he received his certificate, he and the other recipients were given tours of several of the State Rooms. Speaking to the press at a later date, he described it as one of the best days of his life, adding that all of the hard work he had undertaken during the programme had been worth it.