Hannah Chowdhry

For myself and many other participants of DofE Prince Philip has been a beacon of light, helping to make the transition from childhood to adulthood, one that is less feared. The model used for the programme, places young people into situations that test our capacity to learn, our physical endurance, instills strong community values and has taught us the need to work collaboratively with others.

My main memories of the DofE award revolve around the difficulties of the expedition. Camping was new to me and hiking for days an arduos experience that left me phyiscally shattered. The events taught me the value of teamwork and delegation and I remember how useful it was when the boys I was partnered with took a lead in navigating the route for my Silver Award - to reciprocate I took a lead role in the preparing of our end of expediton report/presentation. Of course there were contributions made from all participants in all aspects of the expedition.

Organisers adapted the event after a flare up of my Juvenile Arthritis and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) resulted in my right arm being powerless and painful. I was assisted with my backpack and my group members also showed great care for me. The experience certainly improved my resilience and being put with a group of really considerate boys helped build my confidence.

Before going on the programme I lacked confidence of speaking with adults but completing the volunteering and skills sections not only improved my ability to talk to them face to face, it also developed my telephone skills. I gained many transferable skills that I have already used in a number of roles. I feel grateful to the Duke of Edinburgh for creating such a wonderful programme for young people and am sure my thanks are echoed by the millions of participants who have been involved. COVID-19 lockdown prevented me completing the Gold Award this year so I never got to meet him in person, this is disappointing as he is such an inspiration