Prince Philip: Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme helped millions of young people across the UK

  • Video report by ITV News Central Correspondent Nancy Cole

One of the Duke of Edinburgh's most recognised achievements is his worldwide prestigious award programme for young people.

The Duke founded the award 65 years ago and since then it has helped millions of young people aged 14 to 24 across the world.

The DofE award was initially set up to give young boys a focus between leaving school and starting national service.

After the first 10 years the scheme - which focused on four areas including public service, expeditions, pursuits and fitness - was opened to girls.

Speaking to ITV News Central in 2006 about the award, the Duke explained why it will always be relevant, "It's still going to be important to find out the value of voluntary service, it's still going to be important to find out or discover a skill that is interesting.

"It is still important to take some sort of physical activity and it's still important to discover about enterprise and finding your way around the countryside," he added.

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards were launched in 1956. Credit: PA

Thousands of organisations across the UK run the award scheme, including schools, academies, youth groups and voluntary organisations, fostering agencies, young offender institutions and hospitals.

In the UK, 6.7 million young people have taken on the challenge of a DofE Award to date.

Tony Mullins

The first person ever to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh gold award was Tony Mullins, in 1958.

Since then he has volunteered to train young people by delivering vital first aid sessions, for the charity.

He told ITV News Central: "It had introduced me to a lot of things I had never done before and that stayed with me all the while. I have been involved with the award scheme since it started."

Three generations of one family have all got their Gold award.

His daughter and grandson have both earned their Gold Awards too, making them the first family with three ‘golden generations’.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is available to all 14-24 year olds. Credit: PA

Ruth Marvel, chief executive officer 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."