Royal acknowledgement for volunteer and pupils

Last Friday, 36 young people supported by Aberdeenshire Council attended a Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) presentation in the gardens of Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh. They received their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from guest presenter, Alison Walker, Sports Broadcaster and Journalist, after sharing their experiences with HRH The Earl of Forfar. 

During the Gold Award Presentation, HRH congratulated the group from Aberdeenshire on their successes and heard about their DofE journeys, which took each young person 12-18 months of hard work and dedication. Those achieving a Gold Award will have volunteered, learned a skill, taken part in a physical activity, have taken part in a week-long residential and have planned and undertaken an expedition in wild country. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading achievement award for young people, DofE programmes enable any young person, aged 14-24, to develop key skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment and team working. 

Douglas Findlay, who is the DofE Manager for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “My team and I are very proud of the young folk and their fantastic achievement. A Gold Award proves these youngsters are committed, adventurous, skilfull, physically fit and have contributed to their community. It’s testament also to the commitment and energy of our band of dedicated volunteers who generously give their valuable time.” 

Speaking about his DofE experience, Kieran Grieve from Westhill, who was one of the Gold Award holders at last Friday’s presentation, said, “The thing I liked most about DofE was the lasting friendships within my team. I found the expeditions physically tough but I’m more confident now I’ve learned that persevering to overcome a challenge really pays off. I’ve enjoyed helping teach table tennis and putting on a ceilidh to raise funds for the local Mountain Rescue. In fact one of my team mates and I enjoyed DofE so much we came back to help out with the Bronze training sessions.” 

As well as recognising the great achievement of the young people, Fred Belcher from Portlethen, who has recently retired at the age of 86 from being an Aberdeenshire Council Expedition Assessor, was thanked for his many years of valued volunteering and received a Long Service Certificate. 

Cllr Gillian Owen Chair of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “This is a brilliant programme and I’m so pleased for all of the young people who have achieved their Gold DofE Award. Thank you to Fred for volunteering your time and expertise over the years, and thanks too to the many volunteers across Aberdeenshire who go above and beyond to help our young people realise many fantastic achievements.” 

Nearly 21,000 young people started a DofE Award in Scotland last year through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, young offender institutions and youth groups. To find out more about the DofE and how it enables young people to succeed, please visit www.DofE.org