Past DofE Participants

So many people have come through The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and benefited greatly from their experiences, especially from undertaking the Expedition section.  When you are doing DofE yourself it can be hard to appreciate how it can help you later on. We have therefore interviewed a few past participants to show how it has influenced them.  Hopefully there are some inspirational stories for you.

Claire Roberts

"I have grown up living and travelling all over the world but completed my school education in Aberdeen. I am now studying at the University of Edinburgh, where I major in Economics."

What do you remember from your DofE Expeditions?

The expedition is often the highlight of many people’s Duke of Edinburgh experience. Whereas the bronze and silver trips can incur difficulties, the real challenge is rising to the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition. For me, my gold expedition really was a lifetime experience and there’s no possible way I could put into words what the trip meant to me. What I can say, is that it will remain with me as an experience that was not only a highlight of the award, but of my schooling and lifetime experiences too. Only on completing the award will it become clear what an overwhelming, immense sense of satisfaction the completion of such a challenge can bring. All I can say is GO FOR IT!

How do you think you have benefited from participating in DofE?

I could create an endless list of advantages of the Duke of Edinburgh award and it really is true that participation helps to broaden your horizons. What I feel I have benefitted from most from though, is developing a true understanding of what it means to commit. Looking back on my school experience, I really feel that it was through participating in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme that I was able to develop as much as I did. This in turn, has allowed me to get to where I am now, both academically and socially and I couldn’t be happier. 


Andy Sinclair


"I’ve had a successful career in a Hedge Fund, spent a couple of years travelling and climbing all around the world, and I am a qualified yoga teacher.  Some of my outdoor highlights have been: a week trekking in Nepal on my own and climbing the 800m north face of Piz Badile. In fact all the days I’ve spent in the hills with friends are special memories. I live in London but get out to the mountains as often as possible."




What do you remember from your DofE Expeditions?

My clearest memory was the sense of aloneness as we set off from the road and realised that the four of us were now entirely responsible for ourselves. This was a liberating feeling: we had the freedom to do things in our own way, in our own time, as long as we completed our expedition. At that stage in my life this was  a first for me, no teachers or parents keeping an eye on my every movement or telling me when and what to do. But in fact that’s really what life is like as an adult, and it was a great first experience of that: how important it is to be self-motivated, and also how challenging but rewarding it is to cooperate and work with others.   

How do you think you have benefited from participating in DofE? 

Mainly from realising that I was capable of doing things on my own, that I didn’t need to wait for “organised” trips but rather could get together with friends and organise my own adventures. Soon after my D of E expeditions I organised camping trips with friends in Glen Coe, the southern Cairngorms, and the Nevis area; and not long after that I participated in expeditions to Norway and Iceland.


Roy Henderson

Roy Henderson has recently been appointed as BASI's Product Manager.  Prior to this he has worked in the Alps ski teaching, guiding and touring off piste in winter, and teaching a range of mountaineering and paddlesport activities in the summer.

"Despite my youthful good looks it is a long time since completing my DofE awards. I do still remember going to Hollyrood palace to meet the Duke. Not necessarily what I aspired to but a special day of which I am proud of.  I first heard of the scheme at school and thought I would give it a try, it felt kind of special to be involved and we had a lot of support from the teachers and gained some respect from the most unlikely of other pupils. It wasn't until I was working through the modules for the Gold award that I really came out of my shell and realised that I had the confidence and ability to apply myself to anything I wanted in life."

"Since the scheme I have gone on to work with Raleigh International and the Australian and NZ scientific exploration society. Participation on and leading trips to many different parts of the world. I have made a full time career teaching in the outdoors with experience at National Level in Mountaineering, paddlesport and skiing."


Mark Walker

Mark Walker is an International Mountain Guide and Mountaineering Instructor.

He splits his time between working as an instructor at a busy Local Education Authority centre and taking his own private clients out in the mountains. Mark undertook his DofE expeditions in the following locations:

Bronze DofE – Peak District – I think I was lost for most it!

Silver DofE – Lakes – Cracking weather spent most of the time swimming in the mountain streams.

Gold DofE – Norway on a British Schools Exploring Expedition – Awesome, probably created my career.

"I was brought up in a small village in the Peak District. I think the Gold expedition introduced me, for the first time, to people from different cultures. In that rather hostile expedition environment it was great to see people stripped to the core.  It gave me confidence and an ability to relate to people from all backgrounds."


Cat Freeman


Cat Freeman is a Mountaineering Instructor, International Mountain Leader and heads up Adventure Expeditions.  She has climbed, mountaineered and skied throughout Europe, Peru, the Himalaya, Canada and Alaska as well as extensively throughout the UK.

"I had never done any outdoor activities before starting DofE so my Bronze Expedition came as a bit of a shock! However, there was something about having a new challenge to overcome with a bunch of friends that really appealed to me. I started doing more outdoor activities at school and the Silver expedition, despite horrendous conditions on Dartmoor, didn't feel so bad - it was another new challenge and I loved it! For my Gold Expedition, a group of friends and I went out to the Pyrenees. Again, another new challenge but one that set me off on a path in the outdoor industry.

"I tried several jobs (training as a lawyer, working in different law firms, working as a cover teacher in secondary schools, applying to be a bin woman, dressing up as a viking and handing out leaflets...) but all I could think about was going climbing and the next challenge that I wanted to work on. I did some qualifications and seemed to 'fall' into being an outdoor instructor as it allowed me to earn money with more freedom and flexibility. I've now started a new challenge in running Adventure Expeditions and can honestly say that I love the variety of the work I do. I'm not so sure that I would be in this position if it weren't for the DofE Awards - I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to do them."


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