Duke attends his 500th Gold Award presentation at St James’s Palace

Published: 10 Oct 2013

The Duke of Edinburgh talking to Award participants in the UK

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will attend his 500th Gold Award presentation at St James’s Palace today.

A special presentation will take place in the Council Chamber to celebrate this remarkable milestone for The Duke of Edinburgh, who attended his first ceremony back in 1958, two years after the Award began. HRH has presented more than 200,000 young people from the UK with their Award certificates – an amazing feat showing the Duke’s true commitment to the Award and to the development of young people.

Initially a programme for boys, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) began in 1956 but was extended to girls two years later. The programme has continued to evolve and is now available in more than 140 countries and territories. Available to all 14-24 year olds, regardless of their background, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, as it is known globally, encourages young people to design their own programme of activities which provide practical and social skills valuable to their personal and professional development.

A lifetime commitment

HRH has remained committed to the Award and its expansion. Since its inception, more than eight million young people have completed their Award.

The Award has come a long way since 1956 but The Duke himself never imagined how far and wide it would spread. Its success is a testament to The Duke, says HRH The Earl of Wessex. “For all my father’s modesty and self-effacement, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a phenomenal success. It has stood the test of time: being more popular, relevant and valuable than ever before, not just in Great Britain, but all over the world. The fact that he has presented so many Gold Awards personally, and continues to do so, demonstrates his commitment and his on-going interest in young people’s achievements from whatever background or circumstance as well as helping them to make a success in their lives."

Defying the odds

Kate McDevitt completing her Adventurous Journey

For Kate McDevitt, a Gold Award holder from London, taking part in the programme showed her she could overcome huge obstacles in life.

Despite being born with three kidneys, a hole in the heart, hydrocephalus (a condition that swells the brain causing problems with vision and other motor skills) Kate defied all the odds and succeeded in getting her Gold Award. 

"It has been depressing. I haven't been able to get a job, it’s hard to find volunteering opportunities because of the support I need – or people assume I need – and I've been in and out of hospital all my life. But my Duke of Edinburgh Award programme showed me I can achieve anything," said Kate, speaking about her tremendous achievement. 

Family affair

DofE Award holders spanning the last seven decades will be attending the presentation at St James’ Palace today to mark the occasion with The Duke, including Tony Mullins who attended the first presentation in 1958, his daughter Karen, a GP, who got her Gold in the 1980s and grandson Jamie who is doing his Gold Award now.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, another Gold Award Ceremony will be taking place. President Jacob Zuma will be handing out Gold Award certificates to several young people, including young offenders. Our Global Ambassador HRH The Countess of Wessex has been in South Africa this week visiting young people on behalf of the Award.      

The Award has something to offer every young person in the world, says Secretary General of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

“In today’s tough economic climate, the Award gives young people the tools to compete and flourish and today’s event is something of which our Patron and all of us can be very proud.  We wish our Patron, staff, volunteers, participants and alumni of the DofE in the UK many congratulations on this very special occasion.”