HRH The Duke of Edinburgh founded The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in 1956 and remains Patron.
The ‘County Badge Scheme’ was introduced to Gordonstoun, but Hahn soon got it extended to schools in Morayshire as the ‘Moray Badge’. He had ambitions to see it adopted in all counties, but the war intervened. In the early 1950s, Hahn approached Prince Philip with the idea of reviving the County Badge Scheme, and they discussed how this might be achieved.
Says Prince Philip: “I was very interested in the idea, because I had become involved with several youth organisations, and I could see that some such ‘achievement-based’ programme, without requiring membership, might be a valuable tool for all organisations involved in the development of young people including schools.
“I told Hahn that, while I agreed with his general idea, there was no way I could get it started on my own. Instead, I offered to chair a committee, provided he could find the members. He achieved this, and it was this ‘originating committee’ which decided that the programme should adopt the principle of no competition and no membership requirements, and to respond to Hahn’s four major concerns about the development of young people. He was concerned about the decline of compassion, the decline of skills, the decline of physical fitness and the decline of initiative.”
So the project was broadened from one based entirely on physical activities, to include four separate sections known initially as Rescue and Public Service; Pursuits and Projects; Physical Fitness and an Expedition. Each section included a wide selection of different options and, with the assistance of a range of governing bodies, appropriate levels of achievement were established for three age-related levels: Bronze for those over 14, Silver for those over 15 and Gold for those over 16 and under 20. This was later raised to those under 25.
This meant that each individual participant could put together a programme of their own choice selected from the options available in each section. Even the Expedition section offered walking, cycling, riding, canoeing or sailing as options. This basic structure has remained unchanged ever since.
Prince Philip remains as Patron of our Charity and supports us through attending fundraising events and numerous Gold Award Presentations to celebrate young people's achievements.
The construction of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award during these early years was fundamental to the DofE that is known worldwide today . In a statement in 2010, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh said:
“One of the perpetual problems about human life is that young people of every generation have to discover for themselves what life is all about. The traditional mechanisms for the transfer of social and cultural practices, values and principles from one generation to the next have long been family life and the formal education system. This works well for some, but many others are left to blunder through life with the bare minimum of support or preparation. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award exists for all young people. Functioning as a complement to formal education, the purpose of the DofE is to help young people gain experience of some of the most rewarding opportunities available to adults in their non-working lives.
“The four sections of the DofE encourage young people to discover for themselves the satisfaction of giving back to society through volunteering; of developing new skills; of taking part in a physical activity, and the pleasure of discovering the countryside, or the sea, by planning and executing a challenging expedition. These experiences teach more general lessons and serve as a practical demonstration of what can be achieved through determination and persistence. In an age when employment opportunities are scarce, these skills easily translate into the world of work, boosting young people’s career prospects.
“Since 1956 The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has helped countless young people on their sometimes difficult path to adulthood. It has gone from strength to strength, with 195 Awards currently being achieved every day and employers in every field of industry recognising the value of the experiences gained and the skills and characteristics developed by the young people that take part. Increased support from like-minded individuals and businesses will make it possible for even more people to take part and achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award and help build a brighter future for the United Kingdom.”
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT (2010), pictured below extolling the benefits of the DofE to delivery partners at an event in March 2010.