Welsh DofE participants join soldiers from the sixties at summit of Cadair Idris

A group of ‘ex-boy’ soldiers who earned their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards (DofE) in the 1960s during their time at Tonfanau army camp, Gwynedd, will be climbing Cadair Idris, Snowdonia, on 23rd March 2013, to mark the group’s 10th reunion and celebrate the valuable skills learnt while completing their DofE at the camp.

Now in their late 60s, members of the All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment (AAJLR), including three Gold DofE Award holders, reunite annually to recall their time at camp and the vital life lessons they learned when they were just 15-17 years of age, before going to serve in H.M. Forces across the world.

To help celebrate the experiences the ex-Junior Leaders gained while completing their DofE, the AAJLR climbers will be joined by fifteen DofE participants and their head teacher from Ysgol Dyffryn Taf School in Camarthenshire. These students are part of a pilot Young Leaders Programme to allow more young people at the school to develop skills for life and work through the DofE.

René Dee, member of The All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment Comrades Association who organised the anniversary climb, says:

“We are delighted to be joined by the DofE Young Leader participants from the school in Camarthenshire who will be able to share and learn from our story of the DofE fifty years ago.

I strongly believe that my success in life has certainly been down to the experiences that I encountered during my time at Tonfanau army camp, especially the DofE. I learnt how to survive and thrive. My climbing colleagues share these same views.

This is particularly relevant to the challenges that young people face today; we hope that this climb will help to inspire young people to connect with the experiences we gained and follow their own journey.”

Over 11,000 young people in Wales aged 14 – 24 currently start their DofE programme each year and demand is growing. The programme is currently delivered by 530 schools, youth services and voluntary groups across the country.

Stephanie Price, DofE Director for Wales who is joining the AAJLR Comrades on the climb along with three other DofE Wales staff members, says:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the DofE participants of today to meet with DofE Award holders from a past generation.

It is gratifying to hear how highly the ‘boy soldiers’ from the 60s regard their DofE experience in helping them to develop the confidence and character which has helped them all on to interesting lives.

I think that both generations will have much to learn from each other, there will certainly be plenty of time to share stories and swap experiences on the four hour round trip to the summit. Hopefully these stories can be shared with the DofE participants our Young Leaders mentor and encourage other young people to complete their DofE and gain valuable life skills.”

The AAJLR members, DofE participants, Leaders and staff will be joined by William Powell, Regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales on the climb who will also acknowledge the work carried out by the Junior Leaders in helping to build the present day summit hut for those in need of shelter. A commemorative plaque will be placed in the Cadair Idris Visitor Centre following the climb.

The group will meet at the foot of Cadair Idris at 9am on Saturday 23rd March 2013.

AAJLR who took part in the DofE during the 1960s

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