Royal welcome for gold standard

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Kirklees teenagers who have completed their Duke of Edinburgh gold awards were guests at a star-studded reception at Buckingham Palace.

The group joined youngsters from all over the UK to meet celebrities including Ronan Keating for a presentation to celebrate the awards scheme’s 60th anniversary.

Awards patron Prince Philip was joined by the Earl and Countess of Wessex to hand out badges and certificates to high-achieving teenagers who have completed the three stages of the programme.

Kirklees Council representatives Richard Smith and Denise Bedford MBE, who co-ordinate the scheme locally, attended the ceremony.

Kirklees has 5,000 young people enrolled on the programme, which comprises one of the UK’s most diverse intakes. Many of those who complete the scheme have disabilities or have been recruited from pupil referral units, alternative curriculum projects and faith groups as well as traditional contact points such as Scouts, Guides and schools.

“This has to be one of the most successful schemes in the country especially with the numbers and diversity of those involved and the year-on-year increase in starters and graduates. So many people contribute in various ways to make this a success - it was a privilege to have been there, we have something here to be really proud of,” said Richard.

Over 300 volunteers run D of E in Kirklees, and 942 youngsters completed the course last year. 1,448 children have joined in the past 12 months.