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DofE Celebration at Buckingham Palace

20th May 2016

On 16th May 2016, eight members from The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District (BBNI) attended a once in a life time Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) Gold Award Presentation at Buckingham Palace, London.

The DofE is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary throughout 2016, having supported millions of young people in the UK and across the globe to achieve DofE Awards since it was founded in 1956. The prestigious Gold Award Presentation at Buckingham Palace is one of many memorable events taking place to celebrate 60 years of the Charity.

Members of the Royal Family HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex congratulated those that were present including young Gold Award achievers, organisations that deliver the DofE and special guests such as corporate supporters and DofE Diamond Challengers, who have set themselves a personal challenge to raise money for the DofE Charity in its anniversary year.

The following young people from The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District were selected to receive their Gold Awards at The Palace on this landmark occasion: James Gibson, 2nd Saintfield BB, Darren Hamill, 1st Broughshane BB and Matthew Cregan, 1st Waringstown BB. Matthew Cregan was among a group of young people who completed their Gold Expedition in The French Alps and met The Earl of Wessex when he visited the Headquarters of The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland, Newport just outside Hillsborough in 2014.

Jonathan Gracey, Director for The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District attended this special Gold Award presentation along with key volunteer leaders involved in delivering the Award within BBNI: Jonathan Graham the DofE Manager for BBNI, Tom McCormick, Captain of 1st Saintfield BB, long standing member of the DofE Training Panel and member of the BBNI Outdoor Leadership Team, and Malcolm McFadden Chair of the DofE Expedition Panel. Young leader Charlotte Orr from 1st Hillsborough BB who took part in the DofE Apprentice Leaders' Program was also an invited guest representing The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland.
Outdoor expedition has been a foundational element of The BB Program from its earliest days in the 1800s. The old Wayfarer's Badge required a boy to cycle 50 miles or climb a mountain of at least 2,000ft. It was therefore a natural partnership with The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the BB took part in an initial trial of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award back in 1955 before its official launch in 1956.

Since then thousands of young people in The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District have achieved a DofE Award after volunteering in their community, learning a skill, getting fit, going on an expedition and, for Gold, taking part in a week-long residential. Doing a DofE programme significantly impacts young people's futures, enabling them to develop vital skills for life and work, such as confidence, commitment, resilience and team work. Widely acknowledged as the world's leading achievement award for young people, The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District holds a licence to deliver DofE programmes to anyone between the ages of 14-24 years old.

Jonathan Graham, DofE Manager at The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District attended the presentation. Speaking proudly about their involvement with the DofE, Jonathan said "The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District has held a licence to deliver the DofE for 60 years and I feel honoured to have been invited to Buckingham Palace to receive a commemorative plaque to acknowledge and say thank you for our work with the Charity during its Diamond Anniversary year. Our young people are encouraged to push themselves outside of their comfort zones when doing their DofE and the skills that they develop can be life-changing, so for us to be involved is something very special. We are so delighted to be here and see our three young members receive their Gold Awards today."

Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of the DofE Charity said: "Through the DofE, The Boys' Brigade Northern Ireland District is inspiring the success of its young people; equipping them with the attributes and skills to get a job and build strong relationships whilst opening up their worlds and introducing them to a broad range of interests. We are truly grateful to all of our Licensed Organisations for the work that they do, they are an integral part of the DofE family, and our Diamond Anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you."

Currently, there are over 300,000 young people doing a DofE programme across the UK through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, young offender institutions, housing associations and youth groups.

To celebrate its 60th year, the Charity has launched the DofE Diamond Challenge. This one-off initiative allows people of all ages to take on a DofE inspired challenge and earn their Diamond Pin. Signing up to The DofE Diamond Challenge has an amazing double benefit - whilst challenging yourself, pushing your boundaries, you're also raising money for the DofE Charity so that it can transform the lives of more young people and offer free places and bursary grants to those most in need.

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