news 10 May 2024

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh welcomes 8,000 Gold DofE Award holders to Buckingham Palace Garden

From left to right: Vick Hope, Ifrah Shafiq and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh walking on the West Terrace of Buckingham Palace.

Around 2,000 Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award holders were guests of honour in Buckingham Palace Garden this morning for the first of four very special events to mark their achievements.

The celebrations, taking place today and Monday 13 May, will recognise approximately 8,000 young people who have shown extraordinary perseverance, creativity and resilience to complete their Gold DofE in schools, community organisations, youth groups and workplaces, all over the UK.

The Buckingham Palace Garden has been transformed into a festival-style celebration for young people and their loved ones, with giant deckchairs, bunting, and garden games and activities. Attendees have the chance to hear from famous DofE Award holders and broadcasting legends, and pick up career advice from actors, presenters, authors, and campaigners, at stages throughout the garden.

This morning’s celebration saw His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who received his own Gold Award from his father Prince Philip at nearby St James’s Palace in 1986, congratulate attendees in a speech from the Palace’s West Terrace. The Duke also met Award holders, hearing about the positive impact their DofE has had on them.

Broadcaster Vick Hope, who is a Silver DofE Award holder, delivered an inspiring speech, alongside 19-year-old Ifrah Shafiq, who celebrated her own Gold Award achievement today. Remembering her DofE, Vick Hope said: “Our feet were blistered, and our backs were aching. My lovely grandad had leant me his sleeping bag from his Navy days, it was about 100 years old and kept neither the heat in nor the cold out, but somehow, we persisted, and had a good laugh along the way.

“DofE showed me that I possessed not only the resilience to overcome challenges, but the ability to find joy in them. When times are hard, I pride myself in finding the good bit. And then passing that on to the person next to me – or to the person who has just switched on their TV or radio. I ended up carving a career out of hopefully making people smile, whatever they’re going through. DofE made me resourceful with my time and skills – sleeping on the floor of the BBC from midnight to 8am on my early reporting jobs? Light work after grandad’s sleeping bag in the Yorkshire Dales! DofE fostered confidence in me, and it played a huge part in teaching me that in challenging times we must be there for one another.”

Ifrah, 19, from Huddersfield, completed her DofE Volunteering section with a local community organisation where she helped combat misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking on the West Terrace at Buckingham Palace Garden today, Ifrah said: “Within the Pakistani community in my area, there was a lot of misinformation being spread about the coronavirus vaccine. Feeling detached from the official guidance, many turned to social media, but here we saw an increase in myths and rumours. As a result, the uptake of the vaccine was dangerously low.

“I delivered relatable presentations to break down the facts about the COVID vaccine, giving people an opportunity to ask questions and directly address the myths that had been circulated online. As a result, there was an increased uptake in the vaccine my local area.”

Ifrah now works at West Yorkshire Ambulance Service as a health adviser – and credits her hands-on DofE experience with teaching her a huge amount.

Breaking Down Barriers

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has been focusing on breaking down barriers to give as many young people as possible the chance to do their DofE, working with more schools in deprived areas, further education colleges, community organisations, prisons and young offender institutions, and centres supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The charity recently announced record-breaking participation numbers, with 545,910 young people actively taking part in 2023/24, 330,984 young people starting their Award, with participants contributing an astonishing 4.7 million hours of volunteering.

As young people navigate the after-effects of the pandemic, access to developmental opportunities beyond the classroom, like the DofE, are vital to help them have fun, discover new passions, build their self-belief and gain skills employers value – like teamwork, problem-solving and leadership.

A Gold DofE Award is a major achievement – young people spend at least 12 months honing new skills and talents, planning and completing an expedition and residential, and volunteering for a cause they are passionate about.

Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “The young people here today have achieved something exceptional, and it is wonderful to see them celebrating together, sharing their experiences and hearing their aspirations for the future. DofE is all about proving to yourself just what you are capable of, and the young people here today have showed the world that their potential is limitless. I can’t wait to see what they go on to do next.

“As a charity, we’re working hard to give as many young people as possible the chance to have a DofE experience and we’re delighted to announce that last year 330,948 young people started a DofE Award – another record-breaking year. This growth in participation shows just how much appetite there is amongst young people for enrichment and development opportunities beyond formal education and, together with our partners, we are determined to keep extending our reach until every young person has access to these types of life-changing experiences.”


Other speakers at this morning’s event included include actor Jason Watkins, Olympian and Rugby World Cup winner Heather Fisher, Heartstopper star Tobie Donovan, racing driver Billy Monger and his sister Bonny, and broadcaster and travel writer Ash Bhardwaj. While inspiring speakers at the following three celebrations will include astronaut Tim Peake, broadcaster and Bronze DofE Award holder Clive Myrie, chef and Gold Award holder Matt Tebbutt, disability advocate and TikTok star Fats Timbo and Strictly Come Dancing stars Kai Widdrington and Nadiya Bychkova.

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