How the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme impacts the lives of people across the East

From humble beginnings in 1956 to 11,000 centres in 140 countries, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards have impacted the lives of millions of people globally. 

The first girl in England to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh gold award was Joan Punt from Hockley in Essex.

Joan got her gold in 1958, the same year that the Queen gave her son Charles the title of Prince of Wales.

We went into the palace, showed our invitation and then were shown all round. And the toilets, everything was just so different to what we were used to. But it was lovely, absolutely lovely. And the Duke was very, very nice, very relaxing. He just seemed a very kind, thoughtful man.

Joan Punt

Joan said the Duke “was very kind and spoke to us all”  and explained “he didn’t put on airs and graces”. 

The award scheme is for 14 to 24 year-olds and people can complete three progressive levels, Bronze, Silver or Gold. 

To complete the awards you have to support your community, become fitter, develop new skills, complete an expedition and work with others. 

Woodlands in Luton was the first school for people with learning difficulties to join the Gold level of the scheme. 

One teacher at the school said the awards give people great confidence.

It cannot be underestimated how much of an impact it has on so many lives. Speaking from a personal view, I am a gold award holder, and it gave me a lot of confidence and skills that I've then used in my job. I think it was probably ambitious at the time and I think the impact has been huge and I hope it continues to grow. It would be good to honour the Duke of Edinburgh in that way.

NICOLE TULLOCH, Woodlands School

A study by the University of Northampton found the awards help not just those participating, but the community around them.


Want to continue with their volunteering


Say it developed self-esteem


Make a positive impact in their local community.