Brian Cole

I was first inspired to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme (DofE) in 1977 as a young adult and youth leader with the St. John Ambulance (SJA) Cadet program in Niagara Falls, Canada. That year, I was afforded the unique opportunity to attend the Commonwealth Youth Enterprise (Conference) in England.

It was at this conference that I learned of the Award Scheme and on returning to Canada, I visited our National DofE Office to learn more and register to begin my own award journey - but that’s not where it ends. It wasn’t long after registering for the program that I developed a keen interest in establishing the program for other youth in my SJA Cadet division.

The appetite and interest shown by these young adults in SJA was so profound that in 1978 this original group of SJA – DofE participants were selected to demonstrate first aid skills to his HRH The Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to Toronto Canada. A year later I qualified for my own Gold Award, presented to me by The Queen Mother. Over the years as part of the Gold Award Society and through my SJA - DofE collaboration, I’ve helped countless others to learn, grow and achieve their awards and to contribute back.

Now, these many years later, the DofE Award is still one of my most cherished accomplishments, because of the way that it inspired, challenged and motivated me. And, above all, helped teach me the value of service and “paying it forward”. It truly helped me and many that followed me to become #WorldReady.

Pictured is my first SJA - DofE youth group in 1978, with me proudly standing amongst them (back row, third from the left).

Brian J.J. Cole (DofE Gold 1979)