SIXTY YEARS OF the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme were marked by a special visit from the Earl of Wessex to Moray this week.
The brainchild of Gordonstoun principal Kurt Hahn, the initial awards scheme was pioneered at Elgin Academy as the ‘Moray Badge’.
That later became the Duke of Edinburgh Awards when Gordonstoun’s most famous pupil joined Hahn and Lord Hunt, the leader of the first successful ascent of Everest, in 1956. Since then the scheme has expanded to 140 countries.
Initially available only to boys aged from 14 to 18, such was the demand from girls the scheme was expanded in 1958 – and has continued to evolve ever since with an upper age limit for men and women now 25.
On Thursday the Earl of Wessex opened a monument to the programme at Fochabers, on a stretch of the Speyside Way close to the village war memorial. The new monument is made up of six stones, one for each decade the scheme has been in operation.
The Earl recalled how he had completed the awards scheme himself when a pupil at Gordonstoun, adding that he found it really exciting to be a part of the anniversary celebrations.
During the ceremony the Earl took the opportunity to meet DofE awards to several Gordonstoun pupils who recently completed the ‘Gold’ award, as well as two original Gold award winners and Jonnie Usher, 76, who won the original ‘Moray Badge’ award.