Chairman’s Report 2017

This has been some year! It has been the most successful year in our 60 year history. Sixty years of experience that has enabled our great charity not only to plan and achieve an incredible year of Diamond Anniversary celebrations and fundraising, but also to continue rolling-out our growth plans and engage more young people than ever before. I record these impressive achievements with huge delight.

It is also extremely pleasing to report record numbers of young people setting out on their DofE Award programme with 271,439 Awards started in the year, an increase of 7% over last year. This is particularly satisfying as the number of young people from a background that puts them at a disadvantage, by being at risk or marginalised in our society, has increased by 19% to a total of 49,453.

There were 133,369 Awards achieved which was another record with 11% more young people becoming Award holders than in the previous year. This demonstrates a wonderful improvement in the quality of Award support provided by our nationwide, diverse and highly committed network of around 40,000 volunteers, professionals and DofE staff.
These glittering Diamond Anniversary year results reinforce my conviction, expressed last year, that our strategy is on the right track. By taking a flexible approach to our licensing, building our professional staff team structure, and investing in the training and development of our network, we are clearly achieving our aim of bringing the benefits of a DofE Award experience to many more young people.

We have been encouraged in our efforts this year by many great supporters but I want to take this opportunity to thank our Diamond Headline supporters - Amey, British Gas, RSM and Heathrow Airport whose quite exceptional help for the year lifted our motivation and turned so many ideas into fun, successful activities.

The success of our Diamond Anniversary year has also enabled and encouraged us to be even more ambitious in thinking of the future. In particular, by building on the investments from The Queen’s Trust, Pears Foundation, Gosling Foundation and many other benefactors that will enable us to reach even more young people on the margins of our society: those whom our research and experience tell us will benefit most from our work. This year the efforts of thousands of individuals, rising to the opportunity to take on their own DofE Diamond Challenge, have raised funds that will provide direct support to groups and young people who find it difficult to engage with the activities that will contribute towards their DofE Awards.

The Diamond Challenge has thrown up some amazing stories of “DofE heroes”, showing us all what is possible with focus and determination. (Take a look here for their stories). None more so than HRH The Countess of Wessex who showed us the way by raising the most money and capturing the nation’s imagination with her Challenge of cycling from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace.

We engaged the whole country in our Diamond year, fuelled by the amazing energy of DofE Trustee HRH The Earl of Wessex, whose commitment to a 12 month long programme of visits to groups and events across the UK inspired us all. He met, worked with, challenged and celebrated with thousands of people during the year, acknowledging the achievements of our young people and heartily thanking the amazing DofE volunteer network. Prince Edward’s growing influence has enabled us to encourage schools, youth organisations, businesses, local authorities and others to get behind our efforts. We are extremely grateful for the huge commitment he made to support us throughout the year.

The DofE Network Continues Expansion

The pace of growth in the number of Licensed Organisations that make up our network shows no sign of slowing, increasing this year to 2,601: an increase of 43% year on year, following an increase of 42% in the previous year and 41% in the year before that. This is a key factor in our growth, as each Licensed Organisation demonstrates a commitment to ensuring their young people benefit from the DofE experience. However, it also brings with it a growing demand for back-ups, requiring an increase in the number of employed professional staff we need to deliver it. This in turn drives increased demand for income and donations to maintain our growing infrastructure. So far we have proven more than capable of generating the necessary revenues and charitable donations to support this structure, but we are always well aware of the need to balance our investment in future growth with our ongoing requirements.

Thank You!

I want to heartily thank everyone involved in making the DofE experience a reality for so many young people of the UK. My fellow Trustees and I are exceedingly grateful, but more importantly, as I meet the young people you have helped, I know that they appreciate and highly prize it too.


Recognising the influence a DofE Award can have on an employer’s view of a potential employee - we launched our Skills for Work campaign supported by British Gas for the celebration year. Over 100 employers supported and publicly recognised the advantage a DofE Award gives to a young person, and the essential personal skills they believe that the Award represents. We will continue to build on the “DofE advantage” we give to young people as they launch their careers. The Lifezone and employer campaigning will form a feature of our commitment to the young people doing their DofE.

Age Range Pilot

Last year I announced the launch of the piloting of an extension of our lower age ranges at Bronze and Silver to accommodate whole school year groups. This enabled Leaders in schools and out of school to offer the DofE to young people who would in the past have been excluded from taking part with their year group cohort because they are just below the lower age limit for their level. We have been delighted with the response this move has received from schools in particular and I look forward to reporting significant take-up of this opportunity in next year’s Chairman’s Report.


The Diamond year has further strengthened our underlying financial position, allowing us to plan for future growth with a high degree of confidence. The success of the year has also created funds for immediate investment in support of those whose backgrounds put them at a disadvantage.

Our income this year increased by just over £4m, driven mainly by some one-off Diamond anniversary fundraising. We continued to invest in our staff team and this contributed to our total expenditure increasing by £1.3m.

Investment values increased by £0.7m in the year; the cumulative gains over the last three years are in line with our investment strategy and targeted returns.

The overall financial result was a positive net movement in funds of £4.7m. This was an exceptional performance, driven by the significant one-off benefits from our Diamond year.

Our Founder’s retirement from public duties

Whilst Prince Philip’s announcement (just after our year-end) that he was to step down from public duties does not change his relationship with us as Patron and Founder, it prompts us to reflect on his foresight, tenacity and energy in creating, sustaining and inspiring such an extraordinary youth programme. The DofE 60th anniversary year and his announcement prompted many accolades for the role he has played in public life, his often unseen commitment to so many causes, and in particular the creation of what has simply become part of our way of life and heritage, and proved to be one of the greatest “best of British” creations: The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Thank you, Sir, for all you have done and are doing for this great Charity.

The future

Our horizon is now set at 2020-21, and our plan is to increase our annual activity so that we are engaging 350,000 young people in starting their Award by 2021. This will require a committed investment in both people and facilities, to recruit, train and support the thousands of volunteers that will be required, and to help those young people less able to fund their own DofE involvement. We have a clear strategy and plan for this over the next five years.

Our anniversary year has reinforced the strength of our position as a well-run, cost-effective Charity, achieving excellent results for young people and engaging our communities in the noble aim of developing the next generation. We are undoubtedly well placed and have a wonderful opportunity - and our Founder would likely say a “duty” - to make the most of this position for the benefit of young people and society as a whole.

I thank everyone who has made the success of this Diamond Anniversary year possible, congratulate all of the young people on their achievements, and ask you all to continue having fun while helping us to make a positive influence on the lives of thousands more young people.

The Lord Kirkham CVO
Chair of Trustees
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award


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