Prince Philip: Duke of Edinburgh's Award alumni share fond memories of scheme that 'transformed lives'

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

Generations of Duke of Edinburgh's Award participants have paid tribute to Prince Philip following the announcement of his death.

The charity, dedicated to building the skills of young people from all communities, was founded by Prince Philip 65 years ago and is likely to be judged as one of his greatest legacies.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award charity and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation paid tribute to its founder and patron in a statement describing the scheme as "one of The Duke’s most remarkable achievements".

The Duke of Edinburgh was inspired to establish the scheme by his old headmaster, Dr. Kurt Hahn. Credit: PA

An estimated 6.7 million young people in the UK have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) and more throughout the world, with projects spanning to 130 countries and territories.

Gold Award holder Gemma from Luton said her experience of the scheme had a "huge impact" on her general wellbeing.

She added: "It has shown me that no matter what life throws at me, I can do anything I set my mind to.

"Even though I suffered many different challenges and setbacks along the way, I showed myself and others that no matter what mental health issues I face, it is possible to achieve anything I want. Even when others felt I would fail."

Sal Bolton shared a photo of a message from Prince Philip in her participant book when she took part in the scheme when she was 17.

She said: "Thank you for bringing the classic @DofE for girls and youths around the world to encourage us to give service to others and explore and discover our planet and potential."

Pete Kitching said he first met Prince Philip 40 years ago at Kensington Palace when he received his Gold Award.

He said: "He was always interested in what was happening and with those doing the job.

"The award gave this not-quite academic teenager a challenge and sense of achievement."

Another Gold winner tweeted a photograph of the award, saying: "Even prouder to be part of this gang today.

"Thank you. Rest in Peace."

Robert Wilson said of Prince Philip, who he first met as a Gold Award winner in 1974, that he had a life of "service and devotion."

Another Award winner described the scheme as one of their "proudest moments".

Aysha Bryant shared a photograph of herself describing her experience of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award as a "fond memory".

Paul Lawson paid tribute to Prince Philip, tweeting: "I too had the pleasure of meeting HRH The Duke of Edinburgh when I was awarded my Gold Award in 1980.

"Thank you sir for all that you did in establishing the wonderful award scheme."

The Duke of Edinburgh established the scheme in 1956, inspired by his former headmaster at Gordonstoun, Dr Kurt Hahn.

He remained heavily involved with the charity, as Chairman of Trustees until his 80th birthday and remaining as Patron throughout his life.

In 2006, Prince Philip accepted a Royal Charter from his wife, Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of his awards scheme during a reception at Buckingham Palace. 

He celebrated attending his 500th Gold Award Presentation in the UK in 2013 and continued carrying out engagements for the charity in the UK and around the world until his retirement from public engagements in 2017.

  • Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the scheme 'gives young people hope'

CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) said: "The Duke’s timeless vision for young people has never been more relevant or needed.

"The DofE has played a crucial role in supporting young people to survive and thrive despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, and we will continue to build on his legacy.

"The Duke was a lifelong advocate for young people, believing in each individual’s potential and creating in the DofE what he saw as a ‘do-it-yourself growing up kit’.

"We’re honoured to continue HRH’s work, to ensure that all young people – especially those from marginalised groups – can benefit from the better educational outcomes, employment prospects, community ties and better mental health that are associated with doing DofE."