A royal visitor took to the Peak District hills to follow in the footsteps of Duke of Edinburgh Award participants, as part of celebrations to mark 60 years of the scheme.
HRH The Earl of Wessex, a Duke of Edinburgh Award trustee and gold award holder, joined a group of young people and representatives from local organisations on Wednesday to walk an eight-mile route between Edale and Hayfield, taking in a section of the popular Pennine Way.
The visit came as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) scheme celebrates its Diamond Anniversary, having helped to transform the lives of millions of young people in the UK and across the globe since it was founded in 1956.
Peter Westgarth, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “As we celebrate 60 years, we want to recognise and thank our supporters in areas such as the Peak District National Park.
“Welcoming young people into these areas plays a huge role in helping them to learn about the fantastic countryside around us and build an appreciation of its importance.”
To coincide with its 60th year, the charity launched the DofE Diamond Challenge, a one-off initiative encouraging people of all ages to take on a DofE-inspired challenge and earn a limited-edition Diamond Challenge pin.
The Earl met 60 people undertaking their DofE Diamond Challenge as they walked a route familiar to many DofE Award holders.
Among those attending were representatives of local organisations including Moors for the Future, the National Trust, the BMC and the Peak District National Park Authority.
The group was joined by award participants, volunteers and existing award holders, as well as corporate supporters of the charity.
Ted Talbot, from the National Trust, said: “We work closely with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to welcome young people to our various sites around the UK. We also offer a variety of volunteering roles for DofE participants with activities including tree planting, dry stone walling and footpath maintenance along the Pennine Way.
“The walk from Edale to Hayfield with HRH The Earl of Wessex was a fantastic opportunity to showcase all of this hard work which is helping to care for iconic areas of countryside like Kinder Scout.”
Every year 25,000 young people and adult volunteers visit the Peak District National Park and its surrounding areas to complete their DofE expeditions.
As part of the Diamond Anniversary, The Earl of Wessex is travelling around the UK to help celebrate the invaluable work of DofE volunteers and the successes of DofE participants and alumni. HRH heard first-hand from participants on the walk about the difference the DofE is making to young people and their communities.
Mr Westgarth added: “For many young people being able to push yourself past boundaries and overcome challenges is an essential part of their personal development – inspiring confidence, skills and knowledge. That’s what The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is all about and, if you missed the chance when you were younger, our DofE Diamond Challenge is an opportunity for everyone to have a go at something new and raise some much needed funds for our charity.”