Published 7 July 2016

The Earl of Wessex visited Netherurd, Girlguiding Scotland’s home from home in the Scottish Borders, to see first-hand the difference how the The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is helping girls and young women to grow in confidence and discover new skills.

The Earl of Wessex visited Nertherurd as part of a tour celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of the DofE, which has helped to transform the lives of millions of young people in the UK and across the globe since it was founded in 1956. 

More than 900 Girlguiding Scotland members have achieved their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award over the last decade thanks to a partnership between the two youth charities. Girlguiding Scotland members welcomed His Royal Highness to Netherurd before  demonstrating their teamwork and communications skills on a Diamond Challenge ropes course, specially created for the day.  

Later in the day The Earl of Wessex met ScotRail staff at Fort William railway station to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE). The Earl  was welcomed by Phil Verster, before the two pedalled the first mile - on static bikes – of a 348-mile cycle challenge being undertaken by ScotRail’s apprentices as part of their Diamond Challenge. 

Achieving a Gold Award  with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a key component of ScotRail’s modern apprenticeship programme, with around 40 apprentices attaining the accolade since the programme began in 2011.  It consists of five elements, all undertaken throughout ScotRail’s apprenticeship programme: volunteering, physical, skills, expedition and residential.

Currently 11 apprentices – six engineers and five in customer service roles – are working towards the Award. 

To celebrate its 60th year, DofE has launched the DofE Diamond Challenge; a one-off initiative that allows people of all ages to take on a DofE inspired challenge and earn a limited-edition DofE Diamond Challenge pin.

For young people aged 14-24, undertaking a DofE Award offers a unique opportunity to grow as young adults, gaining valuable life experience while developing essential employability skills. Setting their own challenges and learning practical skills helps to prepare each individual for the world of work. This year, more than 20,000 young people across Scotland started their DofE Award, the highest ever intake across a 12-month period for the region.

As a Trustee and a Gold Award holder, The Earl of Wessex has championed the DofE for many years. As part of the Diamond Anniversary, His Royal Highness is travelling around the UK to help celebrate the hard work of DofE Volunteers, the successes of DofE participants, and he will also be joining participants as they undertake their own DofE Diamond Challenges.