Nearly thirty young people recently struck Gold in Winchester, all having earned their Duke of Edinburgh's Gold award including several Explorer Scouts and Scout Network from Hampshire.
The event, held on 7th July 2023 and organised by The Hampshire Forum of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, saw the young people being presented a Hampshire certificate of appreciation from the Guest of Honour, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson, the President of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Hampshire.
Hiking and canoeing expeditions, overseas adventures, volunteering and crewing Tall Ships were just some of the challenges undertaken by the young people as they worked towards gaining their awards.
One of Hampshire Scout's Top awards, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a nationwide scheme that empowers young people to spend time volunteering, learning or improving a skill, taking part in a physical activity, spending some time on a residential activity with new people and undertaking an expedition with a group of friends. In the case of the Gold Award, a young person will typically give over 50 hours of volunteering, spend a total of eighteen months on the skill and physical activities, and undertake a four-day expedition.
The young people attending the awards event had undertaken everything from narrow boating, to working on conservation and green energy projects, running activities at children’s outdoor centres, exploring the Canadian Yukon and helping at Scout camps in the UK and overseas. For Hampshire Scouts, it can also be used to earn their King's Scout Award, the highest award in Scouting.
Maddy Crews from the Havant Open Centre and Ryan Niezgoda from the Basingstoke Open Centre read out the details of each young person’s Gold achievements. The recognition certificates were presented by The Lord-Lieutenant, who said ‘These young people have demonstrated a huge level of commitment and determination to gain this very prestigious award, and they can be very proud of their achievement. I know they will all have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge too. As there is a real need for leaders to train the next generation of young participants, I would urge them to continue their good work and enjoyment by offering their time and skills as volunteers for DofE.” He also expressed his delight that Prince Edward, who had been leading the Award for some years and who was himself a Gold Award holder, had been created Duke of Edinburgh by his brother, the King.
As well as the formal awards ceremony, the audience also heard from Ashwin Bali about his experiences as someone who had started his DofE at the age of 23, rather than as a more usual 16 to 18-year-old. He also showed a short extract from a film he had made about creating his camper van and using it to explore Britain.
In addition to parents and friends, a number of civic dignitaries and guests were present to offer their congratulations to the young people. Civic leaders from across the County, led by the Mayor of Winchester and the Chair of Hampshire County Council, together with representatives from voluntary organisations, came to honour the young people’s achievements. The Lord-Lieutenant, as President of DofE in Hampshire, is supported by a number of Vice Presidents of whom Mr Ian Greig, Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Mr David Frere-Cook and Mr Andrew Kent were also present.
“DofE represents a major challenge, and gaining the Gold Award is a real achievement,” said Professor Khalid Aziz, the outgoing Chairman of The Hampshire Forum. “I hope to see many more young people following in their footsteps in the years to come.”
Find out more about the DofE on our website.