Hundreds of young Australians have become the biggest cohort to receive the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award outside of the United Kingdom on its 60th anniversary in Australia.
Prince Edward, and a horde of Australian stars – including Dawn Fraser AC, Layne Beachley AO, Kirk Pengilly and Jack Thompson AM – were on hand to present awards to almost 400 recipients.
The Earl of Wessex told awardees to leave Sydney’s Town Hall walking “a few inches taller” and be proud of their personal achievement, and the impact they made on their communities.
“As you know, there are lots of other young people out there who say ‘Oh, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I could do that!’. The difference is, you know you can,” he said.
Award recipients devoted at least one hour a week for a year to physical activity, the development of a skill and community service, as well as completing an expedition and residential project. Many had completed bronze and silver awards as well, which require the same commitments for three and six month periods.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore congratulated the awardees, also thanking them for their contribution to the country.
“You are the leaders of tomorrow and your service makes our whole community stronger,” the premier said.
“Altogether, the award participants and the adult volunteers provide 900,000 service hours each year, which is extraordinary. It’s an amazing contribution to the well-being of our communities,” the Lord Mayor said.
The hundreds of young people receiving the award on Friday are among 775,000 Australians who have participated in the award since 1959.
One of this year’s awardees, Britta Hughes from Wenona School in North Sydney, said the record-breaking ceremony proved young people did care about society.
“To see 400 people here is amazing. Hour hundred times 52 hours of service has been given back to the community,” she said.
“People have tried new things, developed skills and grown as a person, and it’s really encouraging to see that in our young generation.”