Why the Duke of Edinburgh's award is important to so many

  • Watch Eli-Louise Wringe's report

A new fund has been set up to allow a million young people to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's award. The scheme is said to be one of Prince Philip's greatest legacies and something he was passionate about up until his death at the age of 99.

He once described the awards as a 'DIY kit for growing up' and across the West Country countless teenagers are currently learning skills to take into later life.

We spoke to some of those currently taking part in the award to find out what it means to them.

Connor and Lucas took on the challenge to learn Braille. Credit: ITV News

In Bridgwater, 14-year-old twins Connor and Lucas Gilbert are learning Braille. They've chosen the challenge as part of their Duke of Edinburgh's bronze award for a very special reason. 

"Our sister has been blind with a brain tumour since she was two years old and we wanted to share this language with her." explained Connor.

Connor's brother Lucas added, "It's quite satisfying knowing that I can do this and I can carry this through with my life and it makes me feel quite amazed at what I have been able to do."

Their mum Kali is very impressed with their efforts. She said, "I'm just really proud of them, that they've chosen this and it's something they can share with their sister.

"It's those quality moments. Life is very precious for us - as it is for most people - and it's those precious moments that they can share together."

Even the Royal family took part - here Prince Edward is receiving his gold award from his father in 1986. Credit: PA

Prince Philip took great pride in the awards ever since he started them in 1956.

Speaking in 2016 he said, "There are new generations every year who are confronted by a completely strange world and very little opportunity to find out what it's all about so if you can give them a sort of template which they can discover what life's like."

"He's left an incredible legacy - his vision and passion and belief in the innate potential and value of young people." says Ruth Marvel, Chief Executive of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, "Young people are facing a tough time at the moment. They've been through a lot and I think the D of E is an incredible part in helping them to build back after a very difficult year and enabling them to really go out and achieve fantastic things."

Before the pandemic, teenagers could venture out on expeditions - helping them grow in confidence and giving them valuable life skills.

For now those skills are having to be perfected closer to home but they're no less valuable.

Hollie turned to making web videos as part of her award challenge. Credit: ITV News

14-year-old Hollie Slatter has been volunteering at the charity 'Young Somerset' as part of her award - making online videos.

She said, "I film them on my phone and I plan them out on my laptop so I know what I'm going to say. We do themes like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, all sorts of things each week.

"I do really enjoy it and it makes me feel good about myself."

Across town, Hollie's classmate Matilda Griffiths is also using the scheme to make a difference to her community. 

Matilda puts on her St John's Ambulance uniform. Credit: ITV News

Matilda said, "I've been helping out at the St John's Ambulance vaccine project for my volunteering.

"I like having something to do during the pandemic. It's very rewarding. You feel like you are doing something to help."This is why the award scheme has been called one of the Duke of Edinburgh's greatest legacies. Across Bridgwater, across the country and the world, thousands of young people are making a real difference to their lives and those around them.

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