HRH The Earl of Wessex spent today in Blackpool and Preston, meeting young people from the area’s schools and youth groups who are making a difference through their DofE.
The Earl visited Lancashire in his role as DofE Trustee to highlight our work to break down barriers for young people from marginalised communities, from deprived areas, or who require specialist support to do their DofE – and to celebrate the amazing commitment and passion of DofE volunteers.
The Earl joined DofE participants as they carried out a range of their DofE Volunteering activities during the day – including community litter-picking, cooking and sandwich-making, and helping younger pupils with arts and crafts.
Rebecca Kennelly, Executive Director of UK Operations at the DofE, said: “The young people The Earl met in Blackpool today, and the amazing staff and volunteers supporting them, are a dazzling example of the DofE at its absolute best. The participants spoke so powerfully about the skills, resilience and self-belief they’ve developed – and, through their volunteering, showed how they’re a fantastic force for good in their community too.”
South Shore Academy
The Earl began his visit at Thames Primary Academy, meeting DofE participants from South Shore Academy and joining in their Volunteering activity – supporting the younger children with cooking, art and Lego building.
South Shore Academy, part of Bright Futures Educational Trust, is in an IMD 1 area, with 75% of pupils eligible for pupil premium funding.* DofE Manager Amy Leach has built a pioneering sustainable delivery model to make sure students from low-income families, or with caring responsibilities, can do their DofE activities in school time. Between 70 and 80 students do their Bronze DofE each year.
Fifteen-year-old South Shore student Corron Barnes told The Duke about the resilience club he started for his DofE Volunteering, to support his peers’ self-esteem and confidence. Corron – who has been learning photography for his DofE – also took a photograph of The Earl with his fellow students.
Corron, who is also a young carer for his two sisters, said: “My DofE has given me so many opportunities and new experiences. When I started high school, I was really shy. Now I’m a much more confident person, a good public speaker, and I’m excited about what the future holds. It was brilliant to get to meet The Earl today and show him what me and other South Shore students are achieving through the DofE.”
Community and voluntary groups
The Earl then paid a visit to The Oracle youth venue, where he met young people doing their DofE through voluntary and community groups supported by Blackpool Council. The Council focuses on giving the town’s most vulnerable young people the chance to achieve their Awards, supporting nine grassroots community and voluntary organisations to run the DofE.
The Earl met participants litter-picking outside The Oracle – the Volunteering activity they chose after asking local residents how they could best make a positive difference to the area. He also heard from a young carer and young person in care about how doing drama as their DofE Skills activity had helped their confidence.
The Earl also spoke to young people from Park Community Academy, which supports young people with additional needs. The DofE is an integral part of school life at Park, with students’ DofE Physical activities built into the curriculum’s therapeutic care, and Volunteering forming part of its employability programme. Forty students are doing their Bronze and Silver DofE this year.
Finally, The Earl visited Pioneer TEC – a purpose-built residential school on Preston Docks offering specialist therapeutic alternative education. Pioneer TEC began running the DofE in 2021, supporting young people with learning and behavioural difficulties to take part.
Students invited The Earl to join in the wide range of activities they do for their DofE – including maintaining and refurbishing motorbikes, go-karting, and preparing food for the centre’s ‘Butty Bike’, which provides a local sandwich round.
The DofE is working to reach one million young people by 2026, and has launched ambitious projects to fund schools and community organisations in the UK’s most deprived areas to start running the DofE, support more young people with additional needs and disabilities to achieve their Awards, and expand in prisons and young offender institutions.
To do their DofE, young people aged 14-24 choose activities in four sections: improving a Physical and Skills activity, Volunteering for a cause of their choice, and completing a demanding Expedition. Along the way they have fun, grow in resilience and self-belief, discover new talents and passions, and learn practical skills to help them in future – while working towards a highly respected Award.
Find out more about our Access Without Limits funding, which aims to make sure the DofE is for all young people by supporting more schools, community and voluntary organisations to run the DofE.