A Training Trek

The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards scheme is open to all young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Participants have to complete an overnight expedition, as well as time involving volunteering, pursuing a physical activity and practising a skill. This makes up the four sections at Bronze and Silver. At Gold, an additional section is required for an extra weeks residential project. The Award has been run in the Wolverhampton and Shropshire Battalion since the 1960s. Since then, we’ve run countless expeditions and seen hundreds of awards, around 150 at gold level. Currently the scheme is overseen in the Battalion by Dave Briscoe and the Battalion DofE Training Team.

The Award was started in 1956 by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh & Lord Hunt (of Everest fame) as an Adventure Scheme for young men aged 14 to 21 years. In 1958 girls were allowed to join in and the sections were formed for Volunteering, Physical, Skills as well as the previous Expeditions. Later in 1975 the age limit was increased to 25.

The Boys’ Brigade was a founder Trail Member Organisation back in 1956 at the start & has remained a “Main Team Player” to this date. The BB Badge structures have been designed around DofE structure, thus making it ideal for BB members to become DofE Participants & combine gaining awards to both organisations.

In our 2019 Battalion DofE statistics, we had 35 Bronze, 20 Silver and 22 Golds awarded.

If you or your child would like to take part, speak to the officers in your company, and they can point you in the right direction.

More information about the scheme can be found on the National Duke of Edinburgh website. The eDofE website is here, for recording progress if you’re already in the scheme.

The Early Days

At that time any company doing DofE (like 11th Darkhouse & 21st New Invention) were running it in conjunction with BB National  & some with Dudley Youth Service. Two then young officers from the 21st Wolverhampton BB / GB Company being Frank Mayo & Dot Griffin, were possibly the first to achieve Gold within the Wolverhampton Battalion.

Frank remained as Captain of The 21st New Invention company for many years until he moved to Cannock BB & unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Dot remains a very active officer within the 21st Wolverhampton company and a very active member of the Wolverhampton Battalion. Her knowledge on DofE is still very extensive & is called on frequently.

Later Years

An Officer in the then 11th (Darkhouse) Company, Norman Howell became Battalion DofE Coordinator and started the Awards directly within the Battalion.

With Golds Awards under Norman’s guidance in the late 70’s
and boys taking part from 1st Cheslyn Hay and 6th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 19th & 21st Wolverhampton companies, there have been many successful Gold Awards. This includes with still serving officers in the Battalion today, like Ian Sharp, Allan Jones, Gary Marsh & Mark Morris to name but a few.

Dave Briscoe took over the Battalion Coordinator role from Norman sometime around 1990. Dave also later became a DofE Ambassador.

Dave Briscoe’s Personal DofE History

Dave started his Bronze Award in 1967 while in the Scout movement, but within that year had moved to the Boys’ Brigade, never finishing his Bronze Award. He stated mentoring younger lads within his company towards DofE but never achieved Silver or Gold himself. He thinks he is the only BB / DofE Ambassador within the country not to receive a DofE Award!

However, after 50 years working within DofE, in November 2016, Dave attended St James’s Palace and was presented by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh with a 50 Year Long Service Award for Services to The DofE.

It was a wonderful day. HRH said to me after my congratulations that the DofE with The Boys’ Brigade had become a “Wonderful D.I.Y. Toolbox for Young Peoples’s future development.” And how true that is.

Dave Briscoe

Some pictures from recent expeditions