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An Open Letter to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Dear Duke of Edinburgh’s Award,

Having not managed to elicit a reply from the various email addresses on your site I thought I would try to reach you through an open letter.

This letter also applies to any other organisation similar to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (such as the Scout Association, the Guide Association, Raleigh International, Outward Bound, the British Schools Exploring Society, Partnership for Young London etc.)

Each year I visit scores of schools and speak to thousands of young people about my experiences of travel, adventure and expeditions. The enthusiasm and feedback generated from this brief snapshot of life outside the classroom is extremely positive.

However I am very aware of how busy school life is. Immediately after I finish my presentation the normal school day must resume. And any pupils who were momentarily inspired to set themselves a big challenge or to experience the great outdoors are soon likely to forget these thoughts as life returns to normal.

Therefore I am writing to ask whether you may be interested in linking with me and what I do, even in a very informal way.

I am able to help young people realise that there’s more to life than sitting on a sofa watching life pass you by. However I am not in a position to offer a personal programme of activities such as helping people or the community, getting fitter, developing skills, and going on an expedition.

My proposal is that shortly after I have visited a school your organisation would also visit the school, thus offering a direct route for inspired pupils to take action and get involved in the rewarding challenge of DofE.

If you, or any other organisation, would like to discuss the possibilities of this suggestion, please do get in touch.

Yours Faithfully,

Alastair Humphreys

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  1. Hi,

    A very worthwhile suggestion, but I also feel you have stumbled (maybe not the right wording) upon the greater problem as well. You say yourself that you can not help offer with the activities themselves (and this comment is meant in no way as an attack upon yourself and the excellent work you do in schools)and as a DoE co-ordinator within a school this is the crux of the problem. I am lucky enough to work in a school that has worked hard over the last few years building up a program, but had it not been for a core of 5 members of staff willing to give up so much free time it simply would not exist. The uptake continues to rise where I am each year, and we now unfortunately have to cap numbers as we simply don’t have the man/woman/ adult power to take on more.
    As you’ll probably appreciate from your time working in a school (or perhaps not if you were lucky!), trying to get other members of staff to regularly give up weekends for training and trips away is a constant nightmare, and without CRB checks we can’t take adult volunteers.

    I wish I had a solution to the problems as I really feel that organisations like the DoE can make a massive difference to a kids outlook and how they perceive themselves and their abilities.


  2. A good idea Al and a great use of your readership when conventional “info@” contact’s clearly not working.

    Scott, for what it’s worth, the British Schools Exploring Society work with individual students rather than groups. I think this can take a lot of the burden off teachers (no need for weekends away or CRB checks. And, I hope, makes it possible for all sorts of young people to get involved even if they don’t have someone like you on their staff.

    • Hi Tim,
      I wasn’t aware of the BSES! Thanks for making me aware as I am now able to pass on the web address to a number of our former pupils who have been in touch about us leading Gold expeds (we only teach to 16 and although we have agreed to do Gold once through another organisation, the time away for the 2 of us involved unfortunately cannot become a regular thing).

      • Hi Scott

        Delighted to see you’re interested in BSES! As Tim says, we take individuals not groups, and our expeditions can count for the Gold Award Residential and Expedition sections. Mentoring someone else through the fundraising can count as Volunteering, and the training can be the Physical section!

        Please do email or call me if you would like to find out more. We would be very happy to visit your school.

        best wishes
        Charlie Masding
        BSES Expeditions
        020 7591 3141

  3. Delighted to report that I received a very positive email from Peter Westgarth, the Chief Executive of the DofE today. Good news!

  4. Aidan Skeoch Posted

    Hi Alastair, this is a great idea and I don’t know why you have not had a reply from these organisations. However, as a Scout Leader, I would be more than happy to be contacted directly by you or the school, if you were, for example, to do your thing, locally. I am sure that most Scout Leaders would be happy to support such an initiative at a local level, rather than leaving it to simply not happen at a national level. If you are interested I would be happy for you to come to our local primary or secondary school, and then to follow up with a visit myself?

  5. Hi Al,

    Just seen this post and thought I’d let you know that I’m just in the process of registering the charity I work for to become a DofE licenced centre allowing the disadvantaged (out-of-work, excluded from school, financially challenged, young carers etc) young people of Glos the chance to work towards this nationally-recognised award which is seen (maybe unfairly) as something only the more-privileged can take.

    Would be honoured for you to speak to the pilot group (approx 10 y/people) as I’m proposing ideas from your Microadventures book as some doable challenges for their expedition section.

    All the best


    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Karl,
      Well done – this is great!
      Can you email me some dates that might work for you? I suspect the best option may be a Skype chat if that would work?



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