Blog 22 September 2020 By Andrea McLean, journalist and TV presenter

A parent’s view: Andrea McLean and son Fin on the positive effects of the DofE

Journalist and TV presenter Andrea McLean’s son Fin achieved his Gold Award in 2020. Here, she gives a parent’s view of the difference his DofE experience made to his confidence and wellbeing. 

Presenter Andrea McLean and her son Fin

“Fin has always been a sociable person, but reluctant to try new things or move out of his social group. Like most teens he was happy in his comfort zone!

“I’ve seen a huge difference in him through his DofE experience – he has the confidence now to walk into any new environment and see it as an opportunity to make new friends.

“The pace of it really suited him; starting small with volunteering and completing a challenge, and doing his first overnight orienteering trip. It made him realise he’s capable of doing more than he thought, and I saw that increase in him as he went up each level.

“The whole experience hugely broadened his mind and I know it played a big part in giving him the confidence in himself to apply to universities, travel on his own to his interviews and not feel intimidated by them.

“As a mum, I’m really proud of how much he’s grown as a person through this experience, and it has taken a little weight of my mind as he heads off on the next chapter of his life as I know that he is so much more capable of handling the bumps that lie ahead because of the DofE.”

Fin adds: “I really enjoyed taking part in the DofE experience. I didn’t know much about it when I started it and to be honest I only got involved because mum and my school persuaded me!

“I was a bit nervous, especially about the volunteering, as I’d never done anything like it before. But I actually found I really enjoyed it and I started making more friends outside of school.

“I was really proud when I got my Bronze, and decided myself to try Silver. By the time the Gold Award came, I felt much more confident in organising the things I wanted to do and goals I wanted to achieve.

“The last expedition was really challenging – my DofE friends and I did a solo canoeing trip and got caught in a storm that almost blew our tent away! We still talk about it now, and I’m really proud of how we kept calm and handled it.

“Doing the DofE has been a great experience for me. I’ve made loads of new friends that I would never have met, and I am much more confident about trying new things. I’m going to uni soon, and in my head I just see it as another DofE trip – only longer! I’d recommend everyone to do it.”

Andrea and Fin are pictured at a DofE Gold Award Presentation, where Andrea presented Gold Award holders with their certificates. 

– Hear what more parents and carers have to say about the DofE’s positive impact on their child. 

– Watch animated stories of how four young people’s DofE experiences helped them overcome personal challenges and achieve things they never expected. 

– For information, ideas and inspiring stories about doing the DofE during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit DofE With A Difference. 

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