Why the Award matters

Four stories selected by our Chairman, HRH The Earl of Wessex, of young people whom he knows and whose lives have been transformed. Four reasons why he dedicates so much of his time to the International Award.

United Kingdom

Aged just 15, Seb stole a boat from Weymouth Marina and was given a Referral Order. Unable to work with others and having little respect for adults, he was excluded from school aged 16 and referred to the Dorset Youth Offending Team. Through the Team, Seb was able to start out his Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. He not only successfully completed a challenging expedition on Exmoor, but also led his team back to assist a member of another group who had suffered heatstroke, helping to get everyone off the moor safely.

For his Gold Adventurous Journey, Seb joined a group specifically to support other memebers of his group in successfully completing a challenging venture on Mount Snowdon. Seb became an exceptional team player and began to build good relationships with Award volunteers who had acted as his role models. This was a big turning point for Seb as it was his first experience of being respected by adults and of adults believing in him.

In 2008, Seb undertook a round Britain walk to raise £20,000 to repay his perceived debt to the community as a result of his original theft of the boat. He completed the walk in 10 months, experiencing many challenges including climbing Ben Nevis. By the end of his trek Seb had managed to raise just over £31,000.

India

When Vicky ran away from home aged just 11, he had no choice but to become homeless, living in the railway station in Delhi. He earned meals by collecting discarded plastic bottles or working in a street food stall. Picked up by the Salaam Balak Trust, he was encouraged to do the Award. After studying photography as his skill, Vicky discovered a natural talent. He went to Triveni Kala Sangam school for further training, studied under British photographer Dixie Benjamin and finally became an apprentice to the photographer Anay Mann. He has since held solo exhibitions in both India and the UK.

The Award also opened his eyes to world beyond the streets through his expedition and work at the Blind Boy’s Academy for his Gold Residential section. Vicky did his Award through the Salaam Balak Trust, a relationship established through Special Projects funding to find out if the Award could make a real difference to the lives of street children in India by helping them to move on and succeed in life.

National Geographic selected Vicky as one of seven photographers for their ‘Mission Cover Shoot’ for their Traveller India edition, one of the magazine’s initiatives to mark their 125th anniversary.

Nigeria

Thompson was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Regent Park, Toronto; a high density, low income community rife with drugs and crime. As Thompson described it, ”Not all made it … some are dead, some are in jail … a few made it to college. It’s not one of those neighbourhoods where kids are taking piano lessons.” Well, that is, unless your Thompson who enrolled in Regent Park Music School.

He was one of 20 who started the Award when it was first offered to through a Special Project in collaboration with Toronto Fire Academy. Ten years later, Thompson managed to achieved his Gold Award. He credits the Award for the opportunities he experienced, direction provided, role models met and activities pursued. He discovered passions and talent, especially soccer and music.

Today Thompson is a professional jazz pianist and gives back to the community through his foundation to support young musicians growing up in tough communities.

Nepal

Nepalese Gold Award holder Anish first attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2015 for the Adventurous Journey section of the Award. Having been set back by an avalanche, Anish had to reattempt the climb in 2016. In 2017, he summited the world’s highest peak for the second time.

Woman reading map stock photo
Without the challenge of the Award, I would still be washing dishes. Today, my eyes are open to the endless possibilities that life offers. The Award has given me the confidence to grab my opportunities."
Vicky Roy,
Gold Award holder
Although I faced a number of challenges while completing the Award, I now view challenges as an opportunity for growth rather than an impediment. I am such a proud holder of the Gold Award. It is wonderful how widespread and accessible the Award has become, and I am grateful to continually be able to contribute to its growth – initially by completing the Award myself, and now as a volunteer at The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Nepal."
Anish Luitel,
Gold Award holder

Anish summits Mount Everest