Achievements of many of Merton’s young people were recognised at a special 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award scheme, hosted by the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace last week.
Merton’s director of children, schools and families Yvette Stanley and the council’s DofE manager Carol Curtis represented the borough at the event which celebrated the thousands of young people from Merton and across the country, who over the decades, have achieved their gold, silver and bronze awards.
Currently, over 50 16 to 18-year-olds from Merton’s schools are in the process of completing their gold award. To achieve a gold, they must commit to volunteering for an hour a week over the course of 12 – 18 months. They also have to take up a sport, learn a new skill such as cooking, photography or debating and complete an expedition. The expedition takes place in designated ‘Wild Country’ areas. Merton DofE participants complete their gold expeditions either in the Brecon Beacons or Snowdonia. This involves hiking, camping out in the mountains, perfecting orienteering skills and the art of survival. This year’s trip is to Snowdonia. In addition to the expedition, the young people also have to do a residential activity where they meet and work with others from different parts of the UK doing their DofE and complete a team activity such as painting a community hall or renovating a Youth Hostel, sailing on a tall ship and living at sea or being part of the National Citizenship Service (NCS), which is offered to students at the end of Year 11 or 12 in Merton.
Those young people who achieve their gold DofE are usually presented their award at St James’ Palace by either the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Edward. Silver and bronze awards are presented locally.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Katy Neep, said: “We can all be proud of Merton’s many young people who have completed, or who are in the middle of completing, their Duke of Edinburgh award. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to develop skills that they will then have for life and clearly demonstrates their level of commitment to a task. I am looking forward to seeing many more DofE successes to come.”