HRH The Earl of Wessex has visited the Scottish Borders to celebrate the success of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

As part of a tour commemorating the Diamond Anniversary of the Award, Prince Edward went to Netherurd, the home of Girlguiding to see first-hand how the programme is helping transform the lives of young people.

The scheme was founded in 1956 and offers youngsters the chance to learn new skills and and take part in a range of activities.

Helen Whalley, 16, a member of Tweedbank Senior Section and a Brownie Leader, achieved her Bronze award after working through various challenges from adventurous activities to volunteering as part of Girlguiding Scotland’s Senior Section for young women ages 14-25.

She said: "Achieving my Bronze Award is just one of the amazing opportunities that Girlguiding Scotland has offered me. 

"Girlguiding Scotland helped me to achieve this award through amazing experiences including taking part in an expedition from Broughton to Cardrona and volunteering as a Leader with the 2nd West Linton Brownies.

"I really enjoyed volunteering with my local Brownie unit. It’s been great to get to know the girls and help them get as much out of Girlguiding as I have.

"Doing my DofE award was a great way to gain new skills and make new friends. Plus it’s helped me feel more confident about taking on new challenges and adventures in the future," she added.

More than 900 Girlguiding Scotland members have achieved their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award over the last decade and Sue Walker, the Chief Commissioner of the organisation, described the scheme as a "life-changing opportunity".

She said: “We were delighted to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex to Netherurd, our home from in the Scottish Borders.

“Girlguiding Scotland has helped hundreds of girls and young women achieve their Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards as part of an action-packed programme of activities and opportunities.

“It is one of many life-changing opportunities we offer girls and young women to develop their skills, grow in confidence, enjoy new experiences and to be a powerful force for good in their communities.”

The DofE Award has seen more than 20,000 young people across Scotland take part this year, the highest ever intake across a 12-month period for the region.

This year the charity is also offering "The DofE Diamond Challenge", which allows people of all ages to take on a challenge to earn a limited edition Diamond Challenge pin.

Barry Fisher, Regional Director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Scotland said: “As we celebrate 60 years of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, it’s clear that the Charity is an integral part of life at Girlguiding Scotland, which has played an invaluable role in the development of thousands of young people in the community.

“It’s fantastic to see Girlguiding Scotland being recognised for the outstanding work it does and enormous thanks must be given to the volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that every DofE participant makes the most of this wonderful opportunity," he added.

“For many young people being able to push yourself past boundaries and overcome challenges is an essential part of personal development – inspiring confidence, skills and knowledge. That’s what The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is all about and that’s what The DofE Diamond Challenge is all about too.” 

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