Edward hails gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award winners at palace celebration

Edward hails gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award winners at palace celebration
The Duke of Edinburgh greets Gold Award holders and members of their families (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

The Duke of Edinburgh has hosted a celebratory event for winners of the gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, telling them: “I hope you’ll continue to make a difference to others in the future.”

The ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday was the first of four events for gold award winners and their guests, which will see more than 8,000 young people celebrated in the palace gardens over the course of two days.

Addressing the audience, Edward said: “I trust when you look back that the experience was a good one, and that it was an enjoyable one – that you actually did have fun, although I’m guessing that there were probably times when you were wondering why you were doing it and, if it was anything like mine, it was probably halfway through your adventurous journey.

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentationsThe Duke of Edinburgh praised DofE gold award holders (Jordan Pettitt/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

“But it’s a great feeling when you get to the end and it’s that feeling at the end, that sense of achievement which I think is so important about this whole experience, and you’ll discover that goes on throughout life.

“There will be challenges, there will be times when you’ll wonder why, but it’s great when you get to the end.”

To achieve a gold Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) award, participants must complete 12 months of volunteering, a four-day expedition, and various physical, skill-based and residential challenges.

Edward received his gold award from his father Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, at St James’s Palace in 1986.

Television and Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope, who is a silver DofE award holder, also addressed the audience and reflected on her experience, and how it has helped in her life and career.

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentationsVick Hope gave a speech (Jordan Pettitt/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

She said: “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.”

Edward then met some of the award winners, their loved ones, DofE staff and volunteers, and celebrity guests.

He spoke to racing driver Billy Monger, who was there to deliver a speech to the young people.

Edward asked Monger if he achieved a DofE award, to which Monger replied: “I got my bronze but I didn’t get as far as the people around here.”

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentationsBilly Monger attended the presentations in the gardens of Buckingham Palace (Jordan Pettitt/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

The duke then replied: “Well I was going to say – given what you’ve managed to do in the car, I was thinking you can’t have possibly found time to do DofE as well, but fantastic!”

He engaged with award achievers as he made his way through the crowds, asking them where they had travelled from, when they completed their DofE journey, and congratulating them on their achievements.

Gold award winner Ifrah Shafiq, 19, also gave a speech on the palace’s West Terrace and told the audience how her DofE experience gave her the confidence to pursue a career in the ambulance service.

Speaking after her address, she said: “It’s quite overwhelming to be here because I think it’s every young person’s dream to be here today, and I think it’s such an honour and privilege to do a speech here as well and be one of the guest speakers invited here.”

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentationsIfrah Shafiq was among the gold award winners (Jordan Pettitt/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

Talking about meeting the duke, Ms Shafiq said: “Before I did meet him, I was quite nervous about it, obviously I was psyching myself up thinking ‘what should I say’, but I think once you do speak to him, he is a very warm man and he speaks to you on a personal level.”

She added: “The way he speaks to you, honestly he makes you feel right at home.”

Edward became patron of the DofE award in 2023 when the King bestowed upon him the title of Duke of Edinburgh. Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, founded the award in 1956 and held the patronage until his death in 2021.

The DofE award is open to all young people aged between 14 and 24 years old. It is run in schools, youth clubs and other social spaces across the UK.

A record-breaking 330,948 young people started their DofE last year and the charity has committed to breaking down barriers to widen participation in deprived areas, community organisations, young offender institutions and centres supporting young people with special educational needs.

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