ATHLETES and celebrities yesterday celebrated Prince Philip’s most successful legacy — the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which inspired them to help communities.
Since 1956, 6.7million young people have achieved bronze, silver and gold awards in the UK — and it now operates in more than 130 countries around the world.
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The DofE’s four pillars — public service, fitness, skills and an expedition — have remained unchanged since Prince Philip set up the scheme, based on his character-shaping schooldays.
Retired Olympic champ Dame Kelly Holmes, 50, said: “I learned so many skills from doing the DofE.
“It shaped me a lot, it made me a much more positive person and I was able to engage with people.”
Paralympic wheelchair world record holder Hannah Cockcroft, 28, said: “I completed my bronze award in 2007 and learned a level of independence and resilience that I have taken forward with me and that I am sure I would not have had my level of sporting success without.
“Through the award, I gained the confidence that I can do anything I want to, with a little bit of help. I will forever be grateful to the Duke of Edinburgh.”
ITV’s This Morning star Alice Beer, 55, also credits the scheme with giving her valuable life skills, which still help her every day as a consumer expert.
She told HOAR on Sunday: “It is a brilliant legacy of Prince Philip’s life.
“I met him several times when I visited the palace to present awards and he was hysterical, feisty and funny.
“He always had a cheeky retort. When I pointed out that winners no longer have to wear hats and gloves, he giggled, ‘Lord knows what they’ll be taking off next’.”
She added: “I did things like going to a National Trust camp — bashing down hedges to build horse jumps, and I learned Esperanto.
“That hasn’t been much use in my career but I had fun.
“I also joined an Oxfam farm, and became part of that community, and did a St John’s Ambulance course.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time, but ten years later on a beach in Italy I resuscitated a woman.”
Ex-rugby ace James Haskell, 36, celebrated the DofE’s 60th anniversary at Buckingham Palace in 2016.
He said: “Prince Philip was the definition of a proper man. Devoted to his wife the Queen, his country and never allowed anyone to change him.
“He was no-nonsense, direct, caring and passionate about helping young people, the environment and being a stoic support for his family.
“It is the end of an era now he is gone.”
Aussie movie star Hugh Jackman, 52, also took part in the scheme growing up in Sydney.
He said: “It is remarkable that the drive of one man to set up the DofE Awards should have had such an impact on the lives of millions of people, all over the world.
“I did my gold DofE in Australia and it was an excellent experience.”
Opera singer Katherine Jenkins, 40, got a bronze and silver.
She said: “Whenever we met, he would always crack me up with one of his legendary comments. Such dedication, such service.”
Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, 50, added: “There are no barriers — it is open to everyone. I hope his good efforts continue.”