Thomas Richards Vassell
“I was first introduced to The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) when I started going to Westminster House Youth Club. My mother was a firm believer in the value of education and structure, particularly within the area I’m from, Peckham, which is a highly deprived area, notorious for gang crime and drugs.
The club invited me to start my DofE at a time when my mother became seriously ill with breast cancer. I seized the opportunity with both hands as I saw this as a way of distracting myself from what was going on at home. On a high returning from my first practice Bronze expedition, I was left devastated with the news that my mother had passed away.
I almost gave up but, with the support of my DofE Leader and club, I was encouraged to continue. I am now the proud holder of both my Bronze and Silver DofE Awards and I’m working towards my Gold.
My DofE Volunteering – training in youth work and helping younger members of the club with their expeditions – helped me to secure an apprenticeship with Southwark Council. I’m also hoping to do a Sports Science degree after getting a taste for it through my Physical section. I know my mum would be so proud I’m on the right path and it’s all thanks to Westminster House and the DofE for helping me through a particularly difficult time in my life.”
Thomas continues to volunteer at Westminster House, helping others to achieve their DofE Awards.