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Hannah shares her D of E story with Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace

Lauren Snaith Published: 01 June 2024

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Two ladies in garden party dresses talk to Duke of Edinburgh

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was taken aback with surprise as Hannah from Wymondham told him about the thousands of hours she’s given in volunteering through her DofE, at a Buckingham Palace celebration recognising her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award achievement.

Hosted by The Duke as Patron of the DofE charity, Hannah, 19, joined thousands of young people and their loved ones from across the UK for a festival-style celebration at Buckingham Palace Garden on Friday 10 May.

The celebration was one of four taking place over two days at the Palace, recognising over 8,000 young people who have shown extraordinary perseverance, creativity and resilience to complete their Gold DofE in schools, community organisations, youth groups and workplaces, all over the UK.

The celebration saw HRH The Duke of Edinburgh – who received his own Gold Award from his father Prince Philip at nearby St James’s Palace in 1986 – congratulate attendees in a speech from the Palace’s West Terrace.

Hannah, who did her DofE at Wymondham High Academy, was one of just a handful of young people to personally speak to The Duke following his speech.

During the exchange, Hannah told The Duke that she finished her DofE about a year ago and since then, has been helping with the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in four schools in her area. She said: “I’ve done 4,500 hours of volunteering since I left, helping on expeditions.” To which he replied, “Crikey, that’s impressive. Well done.”

Starting secondary school as a shy year seven who was reluctant to speak to anyone, Hannah has excelled and has since gone onto become a dedicated and talented young leader for her school and a DofE UK Youth Ambassador. As a young leader, she has volunteered so much of her time to support others and spoken about her DofE journey in front of hundreds of other people in school. She is now representing DofE at national events as a Youth Ambassador, and says that through DofE, she has found somewhere she “belongs”.

Buckingham Palace Garden had been transformed into a festival-style celebration for young people and their loved ones, with giant deckchairs, bunting and garden games and activities. Attendees had the chance to hear from famous DofE Award holders and other inspiring speakers, with actor Jason Watkins, Olympian and Rugby World Cup winner Heather Fisher, Heartstopper star Tobie Donovan, racing driver Billy Monger and his sister Bonny, and broadcaster and travel writer Ash Bhardwaj, speaking at stages throughout the garden.

Sharing her experience of meeting The Duke after the event, Hannah said: “It was such a privilege to meet with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and to share my DofE adventures with him. He took an interest in everything anyone had to tell him, and it was lovely to hear about his own memories of completing the Award and for everyone at the event to have that shared connection, despite such varied backgrounds and experiences of the Award.

“The atmosphere at the event was so special, a truly magical day - made even better by the beautiful weather and amazing surroundings. I don't think I stopped smiling all day and still haven't! To see so many familiar faces at the event, from the girls I'd been on expeditions and residential with, to the DofE Youth Ambassadors and staff team, it really reinforced what I've said about the Award to everyone - that DofE helped me find a sense of belonging and has made me so happy.”

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