As part of their upcoming tour of British Columbia in Canada, the Earl and Countess of Wessex are due to visit two Canadian wineries and will present the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.
The couple, who begin their tour of the Province on the 12th September, will visit the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna on their final day to present the Gold Award of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme to 21 young people from the Okanagan and Alberta.
The Gold award, which generally takes in excess of a year to complete, is the top-tier award of the scheme which is open to young people from the age of 14. The Award aims to challenge participants to set and accomplish goals for themselves in four or five different areas: Service, Skill, Physical Recreation, Adventurous Journey and, for the Gold Award, a Residential Project.
The award scheme has been adapted and expanded to over 140 different countries and are presented by sponsoring organisations affiliated with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association. The prestige, scope and awareness of these awards vary from country to country and often – unlike awards programmes in Ireland and the United Kingdom – there is no connection to the Head of State and awards are simply issued by private youth charities.
Typically, Gold Award ceremonies in Canada are presided over by a member of the Royal Family or, where this is not possible, the Governor-General.
The Earl of Wessex, who himself received his Gold Award in 1986 whilst at Gordonstoun School, has long been committed to the scheme and is now a United Kingdom and International Trustee and Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award International Council. In a similar vein, the Countess of Wessex has a strong interest in embracing opportunities for young people and chairs the Women in Business Group which aims to the Award amongst business.
As part of their visit to the Okanagan Valley, the royal couple will attend a dinner in celebration of the Award at the Mission Hill winery and will also visit the Ceder Creek Estate Winery to meet with regional Forest Fire First Responders to talk about their recent work in supporting the evacuation of more then 2,500 residents from several neighbourhoods when wildfires hit in July.
The Earl and Countess will separately visit Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario, respectively after their tour of British Columbia, participate in events in Victoria and Vancouver, as well as visiting two First Nations communities on Vancouver Island.
More information about Their Royal Highnesses tour will be announced as details are made available.
Image Credit: Royal Central via Flickr