Up and down the country young people are currently undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. They might not be embracing the frost and heading out for expedition practice quite yet, but thousands are volunteering their time to support their local community, or focusing on learning a new skill. I clearly remember doing my own DofE – helping out in a care home, learning to ride a horse, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pure endurance of a leaking tent followed by a long hike.
The thing I didn’t realise when I was feeling sorry for myself, hiking with damp boots, is that the people making my DofE experience (and all the benefits that go with it) possible were volunteers giving up their time. These unsung heroes – often teachers and other school staff – rarely get the recognition they deserve.
The DofE leader at my school in Peterborough was Mr Barker, by day a science teacher and by night (and at weekends) the man running our DofE programme. I’m ashamed to say I don’t think any of us realised he was giving up his free time and energy to help us complete our awards.
So, it’s been brilliant to support the DofE charity with a campaign designed to celebrate and recognise the unsung heroes of the DofE. The #DofEDifference campaign has given young people a platform to thank their DofE leader through posting their own videos, creating a serious splash on social media at the same time.
There’s no doubt the DofE helped make me who I am – it pushes you out of your comfort zone, helps you dig deep and realise you’re up to the challenge. More resilient, better at being part of and leading teams, better at communicating, better at understanding different kinds of people, just generally, better.
Twenty years later, thank you Mr Barker. And sorry for all the moaning about wet feet.
Some of the videos submitted as part of #DofEDifference are absolutely amazing, here’s a few examples:
Here’s our entry for the #DofEDifference competition, recognising the work of our OC, Flight Lieutenant Mary Brennan who has been leading cadets to success with their @DofE Awards for many years. pic.twitter.com/rJg4NFA8en
— 2185 (Wareham & Swanage) Sqn. Air Training Corps (@2185squadron) January 11, 2019
— GGSDofE (@GGSDofE) January 9, 2019
Celebrating DofE in Auchenharvie Academy and the amazing work that Norrie does each and every day. Please like our video for the DofE Difference competition. #DofEDifference pic.twitter.com/UL3Bgoao6n
— Auchenharvie Academy (@Auchenharvie) January 11, 2019