With the recent death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh it sparked a memory of my time working towards attaining The Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze award. Back in the late 80’s the opportunity to take part interested me as I used to be a Cub Scout as a kid and I enjoyed the activities, camping and teamwork. I had learnt to map read, build a camp fire and the traditional learning to tie knots, along with other skills. I remember we got visitors to come in with learning activities like how to perform first aid, play sporty team games or have fun visitors like the K9 from Doctor Who and his creator. As you can imagine, those that know me, that was a really memorable visit. The scout group often felt like a military organisation with parades and standing to attention and forgetting the need to recite the scout law as it was then, “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to The Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was formed in 1956 and is participated in 144 nations, engaging young people in a similar way to the Scout group created by Robert Baden-Powell in 1908. The DofE was different as it only required completion of the activities without the weekly meetings. I remember spending time with two emergency services. Firstly spending time with the London Fire Brigade and learning the various functions of a fire engine and how to combat a fire, although I never got to actually put out a fire. I do remember however cutting a car open with the jaws of death in the yard behind the fire station. What kids wouldn’t love that. The other service I was spending time with was the Metropolitan Police. I went out in a patrol car, following incidents as they were received by the radio and learnt to understand the various challenges they face. I remember I spotted a registration of a stolen car while on patrol that they had missed. Hopefully the victim got their pride and joy back.

The most memorable element was going the hiking, orienting and camping with my school friends that also took part. I got to use my skills gained from the scouts and I got to be the leader of the team to successfully complete the challenges set by the organisers. I wonder if this was the start of my interest in being a leader and learning to influence people to get something done, that would one day become my career as a retail manager? Maybe or I might just be bossy my nature.

The Duke of Edinburgh‘s award
Orienteering on the back of someones car. Are we lost?

I remember cooking food on a Trangia cooker in a field with fairly mixed results as our cooking skills were in their infancy. It was cruel when the DofE team came back one night to check on us with Fish and Chips for themselves. The smell was amazing and I’ve never felt so hungry. The power of smell. My friend Vip had been given some fried chicken by his parents that he forgot in the bottom of his rucksack. I’m not sure how long it had been in there, going green and sweaty but we ate it anyway and it was heaven.

The Duke of Edinburgh‘s award
Gary trying to enjoy death chicken!

I honestly can’t remember how long all this took as it was over 30 years ago now but I did complete the bronze award and I attended an awards ceremony with my parents. I got my certificate and bronze badge awarded to me by British Olympic heptathlete Judy Simpson. She later went on to become a household name as ‘Nightshade’ on ITV’s Gladiators.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze award
I achieved something

It was a great time of life and its with thanks to Prince Philip for creating it. I would recommend anyone to do it and I’m sure that his death will create a renewed interest in him and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.


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