HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has visited Derby and Nottingham, meeting young people who are making a difference to their communities, workplace and futures through their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).
The visit – The Duke’s first as Patron of the DofE and Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – is to highlight the charity’s work to break down barriers for young people from marginalised communities, from deprived areas, or who require specialist support to do their DofE, show the impact the DofE can have on young people’s futures, and celebrate the amazing commitment and passion of DofE volunteers.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and International Award announced The Duke as their new Patron this morning. The Duke takes on the patronages previously held by his father, Prince Philip, who founded the Award in 1956. He has been a passionate supporter of the DofE and International Award for decades, having achieved his own Gold Award in 1986.
The Duke has been a Trustee of the DofE since 1988 and of the International Award since 2006. In these roles, he has travelled widely within the UK and internationally – thanking volunteers and meeting and celebrating young people making a difference through their DofE.
The Duke joined young people from five Nottingham schools as they carried out their DofE Volunteering activities at Stonebridge City Farm – including gardening, developing a sensory garden, and caring for animals. Stonebridge City Farm is located in St Ann’s ward, which has a higher proportion of income-deprived households and children living in poverty compared to the city’s average.
The Duke also visited Balfour Beatty’s Raynesway plant in Derby to meet young employees doing their DofE in the workplace through DofE Business – and hear from Award holders about the impact taking part has had on their careers.
Tomorrow, The Duke will meet students at Portland College – a residential education and therapy college for young people with disabilities in Mansfield.
Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “It was brilliant to meet so many amazing young people in Derby and Nottingham today, and hear them tell The Duke so powerfully about the skills, resilience and self-belief they’re building through their DofE – as well as the real difference they’re making in their communities.
“From the students helping out at a city farm or discovering new talents and passions at Portland College – right through to the young employees at Balfour Beatty gaining vital leadership skills in the workplace – this visit shows just how big an impact opportunities like the DofE can have on young people’s futures.”
DofE Youth Ambassador Amelia Warren, 22, from Nottingham, helped to host The Duke. She said: “It was brilliant to meet HRH The Duke of Edinburgh today and be given the opportunity to show him the incredible difference that the DofE is making to young people in Nottingham.
“I gained so much from doing my DofE – including travelling alone for the first time, to Finland, so that I could take part in the Tall Ships Race for my Gold Residential. It was my first time on a sailing boat and the crew I worked with was made up of people from all over the world. It was completely out of my comfort zone, but I learned so many skills and made new friends. I want to make sure that every young person in Nottingham knows about the DofE, as the experience is truly life-changing and is not an opportunity to pass up.”
The Duke began his visit at Balfour Beatty’s Raynesway facility in Derby, where he met young employees working towards their Gold DofE Awards in the workplace through DofE Business. The Duke heard from current participants and Award holders about the DofE’s impact on their professional development.
Young people talked The Duke through their DofE Skills section activities – delivering an in-depth research project and presentation around one of Balfour Beatty’s key projects – and met Spot the dog, the site’s robotic surveyor.
Stonebridge City Farm
The Duke then visited Stonebridge City Farm in the heart of Nottingham, where he met young people doing their DofE at Nottingham Academy, NUAST, Nottingham High School, Djanogly City Academy and Sutherland House – a specialist school supporting young people with autism. The Duke joined students in their DofE Volunteering activities – potting plants and vegetables, feeding the animals and creating wind chimes for the sensory garden.
Tomorrow, The Duke will end his trip with a visit to Portland College, an Ofsted Outstanding residential specialist education and therapy college near Mansfield, where he will be joined by DofE Award Holder Darren Edwards. Darren – a former mountaineer and Army reservist – was paralysed in a climbing accident at the age of 26. He has gone on to become an active para-adventurer and expedition leader.
The Duke will join young people in a game of Boccia – a sport designed for athletes with high support needs, played indoors with soft leather balls – which is the students’ chosen DofE Physical activity.
Students will also show their visitors the college’s pioneering accessible zip wires, climbing and abseiling facilities, and demonstrate the life skills they are developing in the college’s on-site ‘Maples Bungalow’ – an accessible facility with technology controlled by Amazon Alexa.
Speaking about the visit, Darren Edwards said: “It is so important that we strive as a society to ensure that adventure is as accessible and inclusive as possible to those living with a disability, and the Woodland Adventure Zone at Portland College is a shining example of this at its finest. Likewise, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has an invaluable role to play in developing aspiration and resilience in our future generations – which it did for me at such a formative stage of life. I’m honoured to be part of the special visit to Portland College.”