On 16th May 2016, Catriona Stone, Deputy Head Pastoral and Colette Harrison, D of E co-ordinator from Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth attended a once in a life time Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) Gold Award Presentation at Buckingham Palace, London. At the event they were presented with a special plaque from the DofE Charity by celebrity supporter Ray Mears, acknowledging the school’s commitment to running the DofE and thanking it for giving young people the opportunity to transform their lives.
There were over 7000 people at the event with representatives from hundreds of Licensed Organisations from all over the UK. Some Gold award winners were lucky enough to attend and were presented with their award by Ray Mears.
Mr Mears gave a talk to the schools in the SW region and included advice on what to put in your rucksack! The Earl of Wessex then chatted to the group and asked the Gold Award winners about their DofE experiences. He thanked the staff from the Licensed Organisations for all their hard work saying that without their enthusiasm for D of E, the award would not exist.
Ms Harrison and Mrs Stone then enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuit and had a good wander around the Palace gardens. They left the palace via the front gate, feeling very important as they crowds outside peered at them on the inside!
The DofE is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary throughout 2016, having supported millions of young people in the UK and across the globe to achieve DofE Awards since it was founded in 1956. The prestigious Gold Award Presentation at Buckingham Palace is one of many memorable events taking place to celebrate 60 years of the Charity.
Members of the Royal Family; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Earl of Wessex and HRH The Countess of Wessex, congratulated those that were present including young Gold Award achievers, organisations that deliver the DofE and special guests such as corporate supporters and DofE Diamond Challengers, who have set themselves a personal challenge to raise money for the DofE Charity in its anniversary year.
Talbot Heath School has been delivering the DofE for many years with all the girls between the ages of 14 – 18 being encouraged to take part. To achieve the DofE Award they need to have volunteered in their community, learnt a new skill, taken up a physical challenge and been on an expedition. Talbot Heath girls have also achieved the prestigious Gold award which has an additional element of a week-long residential. Doing a DofE programme significantly impacts young people’s futures, enabling them to develop vital skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment, resilience and team work. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading achievement award for young people, Talbot Heath School holds a licence to deliver DofE programmes to anyone between the ages of 14-24 years old.
Ms Harrison commented that “Our young people are encouraged to push themselves outside of their comfort zones when doing their DofE and the skills that they develop can be life-changing, so for us to be involved with the scheme is something very special. “
Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of the DofE Charity said: “Through the DofE, Talbot Heath School is inspiring the success of its young people; equipping them with the attributes and skills to get a job and build strong relationships whilst opening up their worlds and introducing them to a broad range of interests. We are truly grateful to all of our Licensed Organisations for the work that they do, they are an integral part of the DofE family, and our Diamond Anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you.”
Currently, there are over 300,000 young people doing a DofE programme across the UK through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, young offender institutions, housing associations and youth groups.
To celebrate its 60th year, the Charity has launched the DofE Diamond Challenge. This one-off initiative allows people of all ages to take on a DofE inspired challenge and earn their Diamond Pin. Signing up to The DofE Diamond Challenge has an amazing double benefit – whilst challenging yourself, pushing your boundaries, you’re also raising money for the DofE Charity so that it can transform the lives of more young people and offer free places and bursary grants to those most in need.