Awards will be lasting legacy of Duke in Sheffield

“It is much bigger and broader than the Duke,” said a Sheffield teacher of the scheme in which Prince Phillip’s legacy lives on.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 1:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 1:17 pm

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award youth programme was founded in 1956 by Prince Philip, who died last Friday aged 99, and currently has almost 500,000 participants across the UK.

Sheffield teacher Simon Watchman now says the scheme is ‘needed now more than ever’ and has been working hard to make sure pupils have kept actively pursuing the programme through lockdown.

Simon Watchman, a geography teacher and head of outdoor pursuits at Birkdale School in Broomhill, said: “As a teacher the main thing that interests me about the award is that it provides opportunities that the curriculum doesn’t.

Simon Watchman with his son roasting marshmallows

"The DofE coves stuff that isn’t exam related, it teaches traditional ideas of resilience and teaches some tenacity and get up and go.”

Simon previously led the award at Handsworth Grange School, and worked hard to include different cultural communities in the scheme, even learning to find Mecca on a compass to help Muslim students organise the prayer times whilst on DofE expeditions.

Now, he says that the Duke’s legacy will live on through the award after creating something ‘bigger than him’.

"It is much bigger and broader than the Duke, which is one of the great things about him and his legacy – it is that he has set something up to be bigger than himself."

Simon has also been working tirelessly to involve pupils in the award throughout lockdown, involving them in volunteering and orchestrating classroom sessions online, including mapping out expeditions and cooking lessons virtually.

"I think the award needs a helping hand because I don’t think there has ever been a time when it has been more needed,” Simon added.

"The pressures that kids now face with examination stress, and such a focus on grades, there has not been a time that the award has been needed as much as now.

"The kids are interested, and it is something the schools and communities need.”

See this week’s Sheffield Telegraph, published Thursday April 15, for an eight page supplement in tribute to the Duke.