Although the coronavirus crisis prevented the official ceremonies for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award from happening, that didn’t stop the Earl of Wessex from honouring this year’s inspiring recipients.
In a video posted on the Royal Family’s social media accounts, the Earl shared a video message for the 12,468 young people receiving their Gold Award – along with a surprise from some special friends.
“As some of you are aware, we regrettably had to cancel the Gold Award ceremonies at St James’s Palace in the middle of March and now we’ve lost the ones planned for Buckingham Palace in May – for which I’m very sorry,” Prince Edward said. “However, I can assure you we will do everything we can to reschedule as soon as the time is right.”
“In the meantime, I and a few others wanted to congratulate you on achieving your Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There were probably times when you were doing it when you were wondering ‘why?’, and if it was anything like mine, it was probably halfway through the expedition,” he said.
The Earl also said he was “really heartened” by the stories of how the DofE family has used their volunteering skills and experiences learned from the programme to help in their communities during the current crisis, “especially supporting the vulnerable and the isolated.”
“I hope this collection of films will help boost your morale and show you how much people admire your resilience, as well as giving you just a little insight into that band of Gold Award holders that you have just become a part of,” he said.
More than 8,000 recipients of the Gold Award were due to attend the ceremonies planned this spring, but until an in-person celebration can take place, the palace called in some familiar faces to send their well wishes.
The video message continues with famous names such as Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and singer Marvin Humes, along with others from the worlds of sport, comedy, television, and more giving their congratulations to the DofE Gold Award recipients.
Tennis coach Judy Murray, TV presenter Jennie Bond, and actors Martin Kemp and Jake Wood were amongst the group who shared messages to the winners, and John Hudson, Chief Instructor at the UK Military Survival School, said, “you can be certain that you’ve got the mental strength and stamina to cope with whatever life throws at you now.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was created in 1956 to support the development of young people and since then has grown to become the world’s leading youth achievement award. More than 130 countries and territories offer DofE programmes for ages 14 through 24.
The Earl of Wessex, a Gold Award winner himself, currently serves as a trustee of the DofE Award and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.