Young Slovaks Receive Respected Award and Meet Prince Edward

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Britain's Prince Edward speaking at the DofE ceremony in Bratislava (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 3 (TASR) – As many as 53 young people from Slovakia were presented with the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) in Bratislava on Thursday (November 2) for successfully completing the DofE educational programme, TASR learnt on Friday.

Silver and bronze awards were given to youngsters aged between 14-24 at a ceremony attended by Britain’s Prince Edward, the youngest of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.  Prince Edward, who took part in the programme himself when he was young, was visiting Slovakia for the first time.

“When I look back at the time when I received this award … I still remember the feeling of satisfaction and of success when I completed my expedition, and I also felt relieved,” he said at the ceremony.

In a short speech Prince Edward encouraged the young people to continue in their efforts and try to go even further by winning gold awards. He also told the audience that his favourite part of the programme was the expedition, which was the main reason why he joined the programme in the first place. Mandatory school trips to rainy Scotland were rather boring for him, as he dreamt of experiencing something more adventurous. At that time, he was advised to take part in the DofE programme, in which he eventually managed to obtain the highest gold award.

The DofE awards young people for completing a series of self-improvement exercises in four key areas: volunteering, sporting activities, skills and expeditions. An additional fifth area, the Residential Project, involves broadening one’s horizons in an unfamiliar environment.

Among the Slovak awardees was, for example, the visually impaired Alzbeta Polakova, who after a break of three years managed to overcome her fear and learn to cycle again – this time with the assistance of a tandem.

The DofE’s National Office in Slovakia was set up two years ago. Thanks to its successful start and growth, it ranked among the three fastest growing offices in the world in 2016 and was selected as a case study in the London Foundation’s Annual Report.

“There are currently more than 150 local centres and 600 volunteers involved in the programme, and we expect that more than 2,000 young people will have joined the programme by the end of the year,” said the DofE’s National Office Director for Slovakia Marian Zachar.