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As the nation mourns Prince Philip Hannah Chowdhry recalls the wonderful gift of his pioneering Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme


Image of Hannah Chowdhry with her DofE Silver Award Expedition compatriots.

By Hannah Chowdhry

The death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip of Denmark and Greece on 9th April 2021 only 2 months short of his 100th birthday, is a moment of great sadness for the UK.  The Government annouced an 8 day national mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh, which means we will not receive the usual overzealous campaigning by politicians and would-be-politicians during the forthcoming elections.  More importantly though, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, other members of her family and friends and of course members of the public can mourn and reflect on the loss of a wonderful ambassador for Great Britain.  Read more (here)

On Saturday 17th April 2021 at 3pm, the country is able to mourn collectively as Prince Philip's funeral will be broadcast across several TV and radio channels.

Live Coverage of the event from St Georges Chapel, Windsor, will start earlier:

BBC One’s will start at 12:30pm, followed by the BBC Weekend News at 4:20pm. 
BBC Two will reflect on the event at 8:10pm.
ITV’s coverage of the royal funeral will begin at 1:15pm
Sky One will also be broadcasting the funeral, starting at the later time of 2:45pm.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II has requested that people refrain from visiting London during the time of the funeral and has aksed that people donate to charities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award in lieu of placing flowers at royal residences. You can sign an official book of condolence (here) and the Church of England book of condolence (here).  Please also write your comments below this post.

Image of HRH Queen Elizabeth II during avisit to Valentines Park in Ilford for her Jubilee celebrations.

We call for prayer for HRH Queen Elizabeth II and her family while they come to terms with the loss of HRH Prince Philip, the longest serving Queen's consort in history.  We thank God for the life of HRH Prince Philip and his devotion to HRH Queen Elizabeth for the 73 years of his marriage. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury provided a fitting tribute on the annoucement of the death of Prince Philip (click here)

In the wake of Prince Philip's death many accounts of his bravery in World War II have been shared includiung an account of how he saved his ship and crew from being blown to smithereens, by using odysseus-like guile to fool German bombers of the whereabouts of HMS Wallace during the invasion of Sicily. A fuller account of his 7 years of service to the Royal Navy can be read (here).

Prince Philip was a patron of many charities including the World Wildlife Fund since 1961.

He launched the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 1959, awarded to engineers and designers whose creations transformed everyday life, his passion for technology is believed to have been triggered by his time on Naval ships. Recipients include Sir James Dyson who designed the bagless vacuum and Lord Foster who was the architect for the Gherkin.

Prince Philip's passion for sport led to a role as president of the International Equestrian Federation. He was also heavily involved in the Sport and Recreation Alliance, an organisation which represents the sport and recreation sector in Government and the media. 

The list of Prince Philip's charitable roles, patronages and other positions is numerous but for me the most important of all of them was his committment to young people through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme (DofE).

For myself and many other participants of DofE Prince Philip has been a beacon of light, helping to make the transition from childhood to adulthood, one that is less feared.  The model used for the programme, places young people into situations that test our capacity to learn, our physical endurance, instills strong community values and has taught us the need to work collaboratively with others.  The award scheme started in 1956 and is now operating in over 140 countries across the world. 

My main memories of the DofE award revolve around the difficulties of the expedition. Camping was new to me and hiking for days an arduos experience that left me phyiscally shattered, despite a lot of experience running cross country for my school team.  The events taught me the value of teamwork and delegation and I remember how useful it was when the boys I was partnered with took a lead in navigating the route for my Silver Award - to reciprocate I took a lead role in the preparing of our end of expediton report/presentation. Of course there were contributions made from all participants in all aspects of the expedition. 

I was grateful to the organisers for helping me through the significant pain from a flare up of my Juvenile Arthritis and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) that resulted in my right arm being powerless and pain in my knees.  I was assisted with my backpack which was carried to the campsite by vehicle, but my group members also showed great care for me. The experience certainly improved my resilience and being put with a group of really considerate boys helped build my confidence.

Before going on the programme I lacked confidence of speaking with adults but completing the volunteering and skills sections not only improved my ability to talk to them face to face, it also developed my telephone skills. I gained many transferable skills that I have already used in a number of roles and can categorically state that going through the programme has strengthened my character. I feel grateful for the Duke of Edinburgh for creating such a wonderful programme for young people and am sure my thanks are echoed by the millions of participants who have been involved.

I obtained my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award in 2018 (click here), my Silver Award in 2019 (click here) and would have completed my Gold Award in January this year, but for COVID-19.  However, DofE programme managers have created a Certificate of Achievement for the Gold Award which I received in March 2019, for completing the three sections that were possible during the national lockdown. Sadly COVID-19 prevented my completion of the course at the beginning of this year meaning I never got to meet Prince Philip.  I do feel this is a significant loss because every description of Prince Philip suggests he was dedicated to the development of young people. Now I will not hear the encouraging words of a man who has been an inspiration for so many.

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