His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex presented Wokingham Borough Council with its new Duke of Edinburgh’s award licence at a special ceremony hosted by the University of Reading on Thursday (2 February).
An award licence allows Wokingham Borough Council to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme to young people in the borough. Managed by the council’s youth service, the award runs in six schools, three youth centres and through other community groups across the borough.
The Earl of Wessex spent time meeting volunteers who run the awards across the Wokingham Borough, including a group of students from the University of Reading.
The Hon. Mrs Bayliss, Lord Lieutenant for the Royal County of Berkshire, received His Royal Highness before he toured the University’s Henley Business School, escorted by the University of Reading’s Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell, Wokingham Borough Council’s Mayor Cllr Dianne King and interim chief executive Andy Couldrick.
Borough Mayor Cllr Dianne King said: "This is great news for Wokingham Borough’s young people and for the wider community. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award encourages young people to learn new skills, to help others and to experience some great adventures. I know many young people at our schools and youth centres already take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and I hope many more will take the chance to join and get involved.
"I would also like to thank all those volunteers, who keep the awards running locally, who give up their evenings and weekends to run these very successful programmes. Without their support, the awards wouldn’t be the success they are."
Karl Hobley, president of Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU), said: "We were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex, to the University of Reading. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is looked upon highly by employers throughout the UK and further afield as an award which shows hard work, dedication and team work amongst other important life skills. The University of Reading and RUSU are incredibly proud of the commitment of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award society members and believe the royal visit goes a long way towards recognising this."
The Duke of Edinburgh continues to be hugely popular with the young people of Wokingham Borough, with over 400 joining last year and they have undertaken more that 3,150 hours of voluntary work. This year, 16 young people completed their gold award, the most since Wokingham Borough Council became a unitary authority in 1998. Over the next year they will all be presented with their award at St James’s Palace. Next month, over 180bronze and silver awards will be presented at the annual award ceremony at Bearwood Theatre in Wokingham.
Wokingham Borough Council has been very successful in introducing the award to vulnerable young people and those with additional needs. Young people from the Foundry College vulnerable children's unit, youth offending service and carer leavers are all involved in the award. Bulmershe Youth Centre’s Explorers Extreme club for young people with additional needs is extremely successful with 37 bronze and 11 silver being presented and the club has recently received its first gold award.