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As Prince Philip's funeral takes place a Kent student with a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award reflects on his legacy

by Jamie Long

The Duke of Edinburgh’s award is one remarkable achievement Prince Philip will always be remembered for.

Harriet McConnell reflects on Prince Philip's legacy

He founded the scheme in 1956, with the aim of "empowering young people from all communities to build the skills, confidence and resilience they need to make the most out of life".

Since its launch, the programme has expanded to 144 nations and has helped millions of children.

Harriet McConnell, 23, from Maidstone, was one of many who worked their way through the programme, achieving her Gold DofE award in 2017.

She said: “A lot of people sign up to the bronze DofE in school. My instructor was really passionate and so I carried on and achieved my silver and gold. We did canoeing down the river Wye in Wales and it was really nice to do something different.

Harriet McConnell with her Gold award
Harriet McConnell with her Gold award

"Organisation was one of the biggest things I picked up. Especially with Gold, you have a lot more freedom which also gives you a lot of independence. Being able to do Gold shows a commitment to the scheme, which is a really important skill for employers. It shows you’re dedicated and can commit to something."

Years after completing her award, the former Invicta Grammar School pupil still puts her skills to good use now: “I’m training for a half marathon. It’s quite nice to show on your CV that you picked something up when you were younger and continued that throughout”.

Harriet, who is in the final year of a degree in Biology, was invited to St James’ Palace in 2017 to receive her Gold Award and has been reflecting on Prince Philip's life: “It’s definitely an important legacy that he has had, and will continue to have. When I got my award it wasn’t presented by him, but he definitely had that involvement in it.

The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip
The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip

"It’s an amazing thing for a lot of people to take up. It’s a great opportunity to have something that’s consistent across the whole country.

"I’ve read quite a lot about him. Like a grandparent in any family, they’re kind of someone you look towards and they’ve had so much rich life experience.

"I guess it’s the same as any family, he’s quite an important figure and has always been there throughout. I think that’s probably the saddest thing about it. He’s had an amazing life.”

A new fund has been set up in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh, to enable the programme to continue changing the lives of young people.

Philip passed away peacefully at home aged 99 last Friday.

He will be laid to rest at Windsor Castle today in a ceremony set to be watched by millions across the world.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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