story 23 November 2022

#iWill Week – How the DofE sparked Emily’s passion for fundraising

This #iWill week we’re sharing stories of how young people are making a positive impact in their communities, like Emily, who learnt to walk again after ill health and surgery. Not only smashing her Gold DofE expedition, Emily also raised over £10,000 for charity and received a British Citizen’s Award at the House of Lords. Read her story.

“DofE is a rite of passage in our family so as soon as I had the opportunity to sign up, it was a no-brainer. For Gold Skills section I started a school newspaper and an anonymous blog which became a safe space for students to share their thoughts. I stepped up to take on a Leadership role, and although it was a massive project it bought me a lot personally.”

“After recovering from ill health and starting to get back on track I went to hospital following an accident and was told I would need major orthopaedic surgery and would affect my ability to walk but would save my life. After surgery I got an infection and spent six weeks in a hospital bed, I had to have three more surgeries and became very weak. When I finally got home I was unable to walk, very unwell, and it felt like starting from zero again. I was always a high achiever and while school drives you academically, DofE is about succeeding your own challenge. I realised that I was halfway through my Gold Award and still hadn’t done my expedition or residential so I should probably learn to walk again.”

“I’d spent two years on crutches after I came out of the wheelchair and started physio which was really slow. I’d go back each week and feel like I wasn’t progressing as I hoped which was frustrating but my physio would always point out that I had done two steps this week and one the week before. I started to go walking with my parents as expedition prep, first on crutches, then one crutch, then a walking stick. One day I decided not to take anything but it was a long process getting there.”

“By the time it got to my expedition I was walking again but I knew I’d need to take walking poles. I made everyone aware of my situation and took it step by step. When I got to day four and could see the finishing line in the distance I can’t describe how I felt – as I got closer to the end I realised it hadn’t just taken four days, it had taken two-and-a-half years of re-learning to walk. When I reached the finish line my parents were so proud because they’d been on that journey with me.”

“My Gold Award also coincided with my sister losing one of her twins at birth, I didn’t know how to channel that pain so I asked if I could fundraise in his name and started ‘Footprints for Oscar.’ I encouraged people to do their own footprints in paint and ran charity auctions. I also ran a Halloween Ball, a barn dance, raffles, cake sales and ended up raising over £10,000 and received a British Citizens Award at the House of Lords in 2016.”

“DofE was a huge driver for me to get on my feet again.”


Today, Emily continues to fundraise and is training to be a nurse after spending so long in hospital herself and wanting to help others. Emily credits her DofE Award for being that pivotal moment in her life – and is currently one of our Youth Ambassadors, sharing her passion for the Award at events and helping shape our activities.

#iWillWeek is an annual celebration of the work of young people, Ambassadors, Champions and Partners across the UK. Find out more.

Opportunity Finder

This link opens an external site. All content is not affiliated with DofE. Please click proceed if you understand these risks.