Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


You won't regret it - Essex fire cadet on completing the DofE Award

As the country prepares to pay its final respects to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has been reflecting on the achievements so many young people have celebrated as a direct result of his youth awards.

ECFRS has delivered the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) for over 10 years and during this time the scheme has gone from strength to strength, and most importantly, seen so many of the county’s young people flourish.

The Service was the first fire and rescue service in the country to have fire cadets achieve their gold award and be invited to St. James’ Palace to be presented their certificate of achievement. ECFRS is now a National Centre of Excellence for the Chief Fire Officers Association for the delivery of DofE across all fire and rescue services and sees around 150 young people achieve an award each year.

“I initially did the award as I heard that it would be good for my CV and for making friends,” said Lucy Soanes, who is now 20 and started her gold award through ECFRS when she was 15.

“Because we were with the fire service we did things like going to people’s houses to check their smoke alarms and give them safety advice. We did physical activities each week and a residential trip as part of the gold award. I stayed in Dorset for a week where we did activities like rock climbing and sea swimming and it was really fun. 

“The award encouraged me to make friends; going to my residential was a bit scary because you don’t know anyone there so you have to make friends. It also gave me skills in pushing myself, like when you’re walking and you feel so tired but you keep going anyway. 

“If I hadn’t taken part in the DofE award my life would have been different as I have more confidence now and I’ve made friends for life - we still meet up and it’s great to hear what they are all doing now.

“The award took me about four years so it’s definitely a commitment, but when you’ve done it you look back and you’re so glad you did it. If anyone is thinking of doing it just do it - you won’t regret it.”

Members of ECFRS’ Community Development and Safeguarding Team have been fortunate enough to meet Prince Philip during DofE Gold Award presentations, where he was so delighted to see a fire service engaging with DofE and was always an advocate for uniformed services and was thrilled that Essex was the Centre of Excellence.

The team was also fortunate to attend the 60th year Diamond Anniversary of the DofE Award at Westminster Abbey in 2016. Attended by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip. His Royal Highness Prince Edward attended and in more recent years has been the figurehead of the DofE to support his father Prince Philip.

Donna Bentley MBE, Community Development Manager and Head of Safeguarding said: 

“Thanks to Prince Philip’s passion and commitment, through the DofE, millions of young people have been empowered with the skills, confidence and resilience they need to make the most out of life.   

“As a very keen supporter of uniformed services engaging with young people, The Duke was particularly delighted to see the work of ECFRS for his charity.  He was an extraordinary man, who gave extraordinary service to our country.”

Page last updated 16 April, 2021

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