From education to employment

City College Student Shares Story with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace Gold Award celebration 


Abigail Daly, an 18-year-old hospitality student at City College Plymouth(@cityplym), had the distinguished honour of meeting His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh at a Buckingham Palace celebration, recognising her exceptional achievement in obtaining the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award.

Hosted by The Duke as Patron of the DofE charity, Abigail joined thousands of young achievers and their families from across the UK for a festival-style celebration in Buckingham Palace Garden on Friday 10 May. The event was one of four celebrations over two days, recognising the extraordinary perseverance, creativity, and resilience of over 8,000 young people who have completed their Gold DofE in various settings, including schools, community organisations, youth groups, and workplaces.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who himself received his Gold Award from his father Prince Philip at St James’s Palace in 1986, delivered a congratulatory speech from the Palace’s West Terrace. Abigail, who completed her DofE through the Skills Development department at the College, was among the select few who had the opportunity to speak personally with The Duke following his speech.

During her conversation with The Duke, Abigail expressed how the DofE programme has profoundly impacted her life, stating it made her “so much more of a better person” and emphasised her belief that “there is no limitation in what people with disabilities can do.” 

The Duke acknowledged her aspirations in competitive swimming, suggesting, “we might see you in due course in the Paralympics maybe?”

Reflecting on the experience, Abigail said,

“I was really excited, happy and privileged to speak to The Duke. I particularly enjoyed talking to him about swimming and my championing of an inclusive world for disabled people.”

Attendees had the chance to hear from famous DofE Award holders such as broadcaster Clive Myrie and other inspiring speakers, with rugby legend and Gold DofE Award holder Alun Wyn Jones, Strictly Come Dancing stars Kai Widdrington and Nadiya Bychkova, disabled adventurer Darren Edwards, presenter and influencer Lucy Edwards, para-athlete Milly Pickles and DJ and TV presenter Melvin Odoom giving inspirational talks at stages throughout the garden. 

A Gold DofE programme is a non-competitive personal challenge, open to all young people, which takes a minimum of 12 months to complete. Young people build their own programmes with activities in five sections – physical, skills, volunteering, a five-day residential and a four-day expedition.  

Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said:

“These young people have achieved something exceptional, and it is wonderful to see them celebrating together, sharing their experiences and hearing their aspirations for the future. DofE is all about proving to yourself just what you are capable of, and the young people here have showed the world that their potential is limitless. I can’t wait to see what they go on to do next.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award charity recently announced record-breaking annual statistics, with 545,910 young people actively taking part in 2023/24, over 330,984 young people starting their Award – and participants contributing an astonishing 4.7 million hours of volunteering, equivalent to over £24 million in paid working hours.   

As young people navigate the after-effects of the pandemic, access to opportunities for personal development beyond the classroom, like the DofE, are vital to help them have fun, discover new talents and passions, build their resilience and self-belief and give them skills employers value – like teamwork, problem-solving and leadership.

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