Prince Philip: A personal tribute from Helen Anderson DofE Director, Scotland

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The phrase conjures up strenuous hikes along craggy mountain paths, pitching a tent on a rainy Scottish hillside and perhaps cooking supper via a tin of baked beans heated over a makeshift stove?

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Yes, it’s all this but it’s also so much more. It’s testament to one man’s lifelong commitment to inspire, empower and develop young people and it’s a movement that has benefited over 6.7 million young people in the UK and contributes hundreds of thousands of hours in community volunteering each year in Scotland alone.

When I joined the charity in June 2020, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, I was aware of the DofE’s achievements as a youth development charity, but I didn’t quite know how a charity so inextricably linked with group activities, social skills, teamwork and of course adventure in the outdoors, would have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic.

Prince Philip meeting Duke of Edinburgh Award winners at the Palace of HolyroodhousePrince Philip meeting Duke of Edinburgh Award winners at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Prince Philip meeting Duke of Edinburgh Award winners at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
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I really needn’t have been concerned. From the very moment I logged on to my first Teams meeting, it was clear that the DofE today is bound together by the very passion, tenacity and resourcefulness that first inspired the Duke to set up the Award in 1956.

The DofE meant a lot to The Duke of Edinburgh – it was his life’s work. He was immensely proud of the organisation; he believed in the founding vision and celebrated its achievements with us.

One of his last engagements before retiring from public life was to meet young people who had achieved their Gold Award at a presentation.

The event at the Palace of Holyroodhouse was an event he attended each year, taking time to speak with every group of Award achievers, who were invariably struck by his tremendous energy and sense of fun. Thousands of those memories have been shared in the past week, from many decades’ worth of award participants and adult volunteers; you can read some of their messages or perhaps even add your own at

The Duke at Holyroodhouse in 2011The Duke at Holyroodhouse in 2011
The Duke at Holyroodhouse in 2011

Over the past 65 years, the DofE has of course evolved. Today, any young person aged between 14 – 24 can participate and it is my job to make sure that all young people across Scotland - and especially those from marginalised groups – can benefit from the better educational outcomes, employment prospects, community ties and stronger mental health the DofE supports.

When I hear our young people feedback on their award experience - ‘DofE gave me the focus and skills to cope as an adult especially in 2020/21’, ‘I have managed better than I thought I would’ and that the DofE has ‘shown me that I can do anything’, I know the Duke would be proud.

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, our founder and patron, founded the DofE in the spirit of adventure. He was a passionate believer in the limitless potential of young people, and we are proud to continue his work

Last year, in Scotland, over 20,000 young people started their DofE journey. As they continue with their award, our values of adventure, friendship, and challenge live on.

The Duke meeting award winners in 2012The Duke meeting award winners in 2012
The Duke meeting award winners in 2012

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