Release date: 14 June 2018
West Sussex young adults have spoken of the ‘overwhelming’ moment when they received their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards at Buckingham Palace.
Around 25 young people from West Sussex were chosen to attend the palace in May to be awarded their certificate by Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex.
The event coincided with the first ever Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expedition run by staff from West Sussex County Council’s service for families.
Another 25 young people, including young parents, disadvantaged groups and those with disabilities, camped in the New Forest and successfully passed the expedition section of the DofE Bronze award.
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “I would like to thank the dedication of everyone who took part, including council staff, as it meant the expedition was a great success. The DofE assessors apparently spoke of how impressed they were with the young people and noticed a real change in them over the two days.
“The confidence that DofE gives young people is incredible. It has made such a difference to so many lives and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have fun whilst building up their skills.”
The DofE Award programme is designed to take young people through a challenging and rewarding programme of personal development with three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Supported by West Sussex County Council, 65 centres are delivering DofE in West Sussex with individual DofE levels often taking between 12 and 18 months of hard work and dedication.
Those who achieve a Gold DofE Award will volunteer, learn a skill, get fit, take part in a week long residential and plan and undertake an expedition in wild country.
Millie Brand, 19, from Horsham, Jodi Adams, 18, from Yapton, and Tomas Duliban, 18, from Crawley, were three of the lucky award recipients who attended Buckingham Palace for the presentation.
Millie, who completed her award at the Horsham Open Centre, said: “Doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
“Every expedition was an absolute adventure, especially the night of torrential rain on our wild camp in the Brecon Beacons. We were very tempted to give up. But somehow we pulled on through it as a team, and the sense of achievement at the end was phenomenal.
“As well as all the laughs and memories along the way, DofE has given me so much more. It helped me secure a job and as a result of my residential section on a summer school at the University of Sussex, I was offered a place to study based on lower A-level results, without which I wouldn’t have got in.
“Having finished my award, I definitely want to keep pushing myself. Whatever happens, I know that the experience I have gained from my Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards will continue to help me along the way, and it is something I will always be very proud of.”
Tomas, who also completed his gold award at the Horsham Open Centre, said: “The most memorable moments of my gold DofE were the two expeditions. As hard as they were, it was still a great experience of being able to see such beautiful and stunning sights of nature.
“I have built my ability of working in a team as well as improving my leadership and communication skills. I believe that the skills learned will come into use in my everyday life.
“It was a privilege going to the palace and being able to walk around the gardens.”
Jodi, who completed her award at The Open Centre in Chichester, has also since gone on to train as a DofE volunteer leader.
Jodi said: “The experience of the award ceremony at the palace was overwhelming and a bit surreal. You were able to look around and see what Her Majesty’s garden looks like.
“I decided to become a DofE volunteer leader as I wanted to carry on what I love doing, walking, and enjoying the outdoors and I wanted to other young people to realise that DofE is such an amazing, enlightening experience and rewarding.
“I want to encourage other young people to try the experience and show them that it is something they may want to take on. I want them to realise it’s a challenge that is so achievable if they put their mind to it.
“I have made new friends through all aspects of completing the award for example I became a young leader at my local Beaver unit as a result of volunteering and have made some very good friends as a result.
“The expeditions have helped me develop organisational skills. I think doing DofE has made me more resilient and given me more determination to continue with things. It has also made me more outward looking.
“I think these skills will definitely help me in the future as I want to go into a job where I am going to be able to work as part of a team and at points maybe take on some leadership roles within the job.”
To find out more about taking part in West Sussex, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/dofe, email email@example.com, or contact a school, college, youth group or one of the five Open Centres in the county.