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Prince Edward visits Medway Open Award Centre in his work with Duke of Edinburgh Awards

A centre dedicated to supporting youngsters taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards got a visit from the royal boss.

Prince Edward stopped off at the Medway Open Award Centre (MOAC)in Gillingham yesterday during a visit to Kent.

Children from the 2J's pre school welcomed Prince Edward to Gillingham wearing home-made crowns. Picture: Phil Lee
Children from the 2J's pre school welcomed Prince Edward to Gillingham wearing home-made crowns. Picture: Phil Lee

The eleventh in line to the throne is chairman of the DofE board of trustees, and met with The Mayor of Medway Cllr Habib Tejan, Cllr Martin Potter and the volunteer group at the centre which supplies youngsters with expedition equipment.

The DofE award is open to people aged 14-24 and is split into three levels: bronze, silver and gold.

Each stage is made up of four different challenges, which comprise volunteering, something physical, a skills challenge and an expedition, which becomes a residential stay at gold level.

Schools across Medway offer the national award as part of extra-curricular activity.

The MOAC, in Strand Approach Road, supplies equipment for the expedition section, such as backpacks, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, boots and other essentials.

Prince Edward shares a joke with Robert Wood, chairman of Medway Open Award Centre. Picture: Phil Lee
Prince Edward shares a joke with Robert Wood, chairman of Medway Open Award Centre. Picture: Phil Lee

The Earl of Wessex was greeted at the entrance to the centre by pupils from 2J's pre-school –wearing personalised crowns – which meets nearby.

He also spoke with DofE Bronze Award recipients from Robert Napier School in Gillingham and St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School in Chatham.

St John Fisher deputy head Jerry McCaughan said: "We have been running the scheme at the school for two years and the momentum has been outstanding.

"It is enormous to meet the person at the top of the tree in this area and a huge opportunity for us as a school and a massive experience for the kids doing the work to actually be able to talk to someone of that level.

"It provides them with a very positive forum where they can just be kids. They can learn about life in a very safe and structured way; it teaches them real life skills."

The Earl of Wessex spoke to schools participating in the scheme. Picture: Phil Lee
The Earl of Wessex spoke to schools participating in the scheme. Picture: Phil Lee

Robert Gill, DofE Award co-ordinator for Kent, said: "We teach the kids how to work well in a team, how to be leaders of those teams and how to keep themselves motivated and organised.

"The potential experiences that they will get and the skills they will learn will stay with them for life.

"It's been fantastic. For the young people it is superb to have the Prince come here and it is just a wonderful experience for them."

Cllr Martin Potter, cabinet member for education and schools said: "I think it's really important for local children and young people to have the opportunities here in Medway.

"He was very interested in everything that was going on here and in what the children and young people have achieved with their awards. It's great to see how enthusiastic he was about it all and the interest he took in it."

Rob, a DofE young leader, said: "It's the first time I've met someone in the royal family and it was great to see him here to talk about what we do."

The Prince also visited Dover.

Read More: All the latest news from Medway

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