Our DofE UK Youth Ambassador programme is now in its third year and we're excited to introduce all 35 Youth Ambassadors to you!
Afaf's DofE journey has been a life-changing adventure that has shaped her into the person she is today. Through DofE she has gained essential skills and experience that have helped her to step outside her comfort zone. Afaf’s Expedition holds a special place in her heart, and even when faced with challenges (including being chased by a herd of cows!) she has learnt bravery and resilience. The experience has given her treasured memories and amusing stories that she now happily shares with friends. Having completed both Bronze and Silver, she is now on track to finish her Gold. She has achieved new gradings in martial arts for her Physical section and developed confidence in her abilities when tutoring for Volunteering. Her self-assurance and eagerness to succeed continues to push Afaf, and she now plans to pursue a career in medicine. When giving advice to others embarking on their own DofE journey, she recommends approaching the experience with an open heart and a curious spirit, whilst trying to find joy in every moment!
Alexie did her DofE through Young at Heart, a charity who provide physical and emotional support for families and children diagnosed with heart defects. Alexie is home educated and has a range of additional needs but has demonstrated just what she is capable of throughout her DofE journey. For Volunteering, she delivered care packages to families in hospital and loved being able to give back and make new connections. She has developed her cooking skills (with a focus on Italian food) and has also started learning the language, with plans to visit Italy one day! Alexie is also a DofE Young Leader, supporting other young people, in a similar position to herself, to access their Awards. She took up football for her Physical section and represents Aston Villa’s Ability Counts team and has even started coaching the U12s. Alexie never imagined that DofE would be accessible to her and wants to use her role as a Youth Ambassador to show other young people with disabilities exactly what they are able to achieve.
Anna was unable to access DofE until year 12 but was the driving force behind her school renewing their licence. She enrolled on her Gold Award and was given the responsibility of getting a team together, which she achieved, by promoting the benefits of taking part to all her friends. Initially it was a challenge to balance her ever growing workload, with the time commitments of the Award, but she did so by linking her sections to existing hobbies. This included football, clarinet, and volunteering as a Young Leader at Guides, where Anna discovered her passion for working with young people. She combined this with her love for the outdoors on her Residential at an outward-bound retreat centre. In fact, she was so inspired that she now works there as a Programme Leader, planning and delivering activity sessions for young people. Anna has a degree in Geography and is working towards becoming a qualified Mountain Leader. She plans to go into a career in teaching where she will ensure her school offers the DofE from Bronze through to Gold!
Baljodh describes his DofE journey as a rollercoaster ride. Having moved to the UK from India, DofE provided an opportunity to connect with new people and make a positive impact in his community. Baljodh got his first taste of helping others when he volunteered at Punjabi school in his Gurdwara for Bronze. He joined the Army Cadets at Silver, and this soon became a big part of his identity, with one highlight being a Remembrance Day parade at Westminster Abbey. He has now progressed to the role of Adult Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), is a trained radio instructor and a qualified first aider. However, he feels his biggest impact has been launching DofE at his Gurdwara, where he is a Leader and Expedition Assessor. Through each of these roles he has loved being able to engage with young people and help build their confidence, whilst also raising the profile of the DofE Award. As a Youth Ambassador, Baljodh wants to share his experience on how to start DofE in different faith communities to ensure this is an Award which is accessible for every young person.
Cara grew up in a military family which gave her opportunities to travel, but with this came the challenge of attending seven different schools and having to regularly form new friendships. DofE has enabled Cara to make valuable connections with people, which has helped her to feel more secure and confident. She quickly discovered the value of teamwork while out on the hockey pitch for her Physical section, and again whilst getting lost in a forest during her Expedition! Cara now understands that everyone has their own challenges which they face along the way and has developed a passion for helping other people. Beyond her DofE activities, she has raised money for families in Ukraine by running a community awareness campaign and selling donuts in school. Cara is also committed to working on her own physical and mental health by completing a first aid course and has recently taken up yoga to help her switch off from the pressures of exams. She is planning to push her own limits with a Residential to Everest Base Camp for her next adventure!
Carly first heard about DofE in primary school from a boy who was volunteering at an after-school club. Inspired, she couldn’t wait until she was old enough to sign up! Carly loves animals and for her Skill section at Bronze, took up animal husbandry. This involved spending time on a local farm helping to birth and bottle feed the lambs. She also learnt how to herd sheep and clean out their pens. She enjoyed the experience so much that she now visits the farm each year to help during lambing season. Now at Silver, she is horse riding for her Physical section, and co-incidentally the horse she rides is called Silver! Carly is also a qualified football referee and has been working her way through refereeing games for different age groups, building her resilience when dealing with confrontation on the pitch. She recently refereed in the Foyle Cup – a youth tournament in Northern Ireland. She is proud to follow in her dad's footsteps and is pleased to see the growing number of females taking up the sport. Carly’s next adventure will be her Gold Award.
Courtney never had the chance to do DofE at school but feels passionately that DofE should be for everybody, campaigning to get it up and running in her college. Since starting her Award, she has seen her confidence soar and has pushed herself to try things that she would never usually have done. The Volunteering section has had the biggest impact on Courtney, who wants to go into a career working with young people, as she has represented her college as a DofE Young Leader, supporting other students through their own DofE journey. She helped run training sessions and enjoyed the responsibility of taking on a leadership role. She has even been asked to help organise and deliver an Expedition for another local school. Courtney wants to use her position as a Youth Ambassador to spread the message that all neurodiverse young people can achieve, they just need to be given the opportunity to demonstrate their talents. Courtney is someone who says yes to opportunities, as she has seen firsthand the positive impact this can have.
Danni moved to Shetland in 2019 and felt a mixture of nerves and excitement, as this was a completely new environment. The first challenge was meeting new people and she found her community when she joined the Army Cadets, which turned out to be the best decision she ever made! Danni is passionate about providing more opportunities for young people and has volunteered at Ability Shetland throughout her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, supporting people with disabilities to realise their full potential in all areas of life. Danni has also progressed through the Cadets and has now been promoted to Sergeant. She has helped grow the DofE on the island, with more young people now being given the opportunity to get involved. Danni will be completing her Gold Award later this year, with a kayaking Residential and Expeditions in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Danni’s advice for anyone just starting out on their DofE journey is to choose activities that you really love and are passionate about. Consider what you enjoy and how it fits with your schedule.
Emmanuel signed up to DofE through his church and has noticed a big improvement in his social skills, having had to work with people of all ages. He has enjoyed giving back to his community and has become a role model for other young people by progressing to the role of Youth Leader at his church. Emmanuel took up cycling for his Silver Physical section and has gradually increased his distances to travel out of the city and explore new areas. He has focused on bike maintenance for his Skill and has picked up lots of tips by watching online cycling videos. He can now make his own repairs and feels much more confident when out exploring. His skills were put to the test on the Silver Expedition, which involved a challenging 96-mile bike ride, navigating hills and changing weather conditions, but he stayed positive and was motivated by his friends and family cheering the team on. Emmanuel is proud of the person he has become and aspires to study urban planning at university, to create positive changes in more deprived areas of his community.
Finlay signed up to DofE to see how far he could push himself, both physically and mentally. He is an athlete and holds three Scottish running titles for 100m, 200m and 400m distances. Finlay has focused on his discipline of frame running for his Bronze, Silver, and Gold Physical sections. To begin with he found the sport challenging due to his cerebral palsy, but he has made huge progress by working on his co-ordination, endurance, and speed. He now has experience racing over longer distances, including his local parkrun, and a half-marathon. He volunteers at his athletics club and enjoys delivering training sessions, seeing the progress made by juniors with his support and guidance. He has been able to educate them on his disability and wants to help other disabled people feel more confident to ask for help and make the world more accessible. Finlay is now planning his first marathon and aims to work in sports development, with a focus on disability sport. He would also like to see frame running at the Paralympics one day.
Folusho worried that DofE wouldn’t be for her. As someone who wasn't naturally sporty, didn't enjoy walking and had never camped before, the prospect of the Physical and Expedition sections was initially unnerving. She signed up for Bronze after some persuasion from her mum and relished the supportive environment of taking part through her Girlguiding unit. Folusho realised that you don't have to be the best at something to enjoy it, and as a result, has pushed herself out of her comfort zone and discovered what she can do. She joined her school’s rounders club at Bronze and learnt to play tennis at Silver, and the more she played, the better she got. Now, near completion of her Gold, she is a member of her local dance group and is working towards performing at her first dance festival! Folusho has found belief and confidence through DofE and wants to use her voice to empower other people to explore what they are capable of.
Gracie has always been determined to take on any opportunities that come her way. DofE presented a new challenge, and through her Bronze and Silver Awards, she has learnt to never underestimate her own abilities. Gracie signed up to be a Fire Cadet for her Volunteering section. As someone who was not sporty, this was a huge step out of her comfort zone, but she has now completed search and rescue missions, scaled buildings on ladder drills and has worked her way up the ranks to hold the position of Watch Commander. As one of the only females in a leadership role, Gracie wants to break the mould and inspire other female cadets to follow in her footsteps. She put her first aid training into practice when a member of her team was taken ill on Expedition and is campaigning to introduce first aid into the curriculum in her school. Gracie completed a British Sign Language course for her Bronze Skills section and hopes to be able to use this to break down barriers in communication for people with hearing difficulties.
Gurt is a talented photographer and was first inspired to pick up the camera by his mum, who has experience working for a magazine. He focused on photography for his Silver Skill, as it is something he enjoys, but he didn’t expect one of his images of a snow-covered Mussenden Temple with a train emerging from the tunnel below to feature on BBC news! He now sells his prints in a local shop and has been hired as a photographer at his first wedding, which he is very excited about. Gurt feels proud that something he does for fun has progressed into so much more. Through DofE, Gurt has learnt the value of teamwork, and his Expeditions have brought together people from a range of backgrounds and abilities. Gurt was able to use his previous Scouting experience to help lead the team at Bronze, but struggled with navigation and recalls the team taking a detour using their rucksacks as sledges to get back on track! Gurt recognises that everyone has something to contribute and to never judge someone before getting to know them properly.
Hannah’s DofE journey has been one of connection and self-discovery. She relished the freedom of being able to get out on her bike during lockdown and would frequently cycle to see her grandparents and deliver home baked cakes (even if they did get a bit squashed on route!) It was her grandad who taught her woodwork for her Skill and helped her make her own wardrobes and bookcase. Her new-found love for building things has encouraged Hannah to consider a career in engineering. Through her Expeditions, Hannah has made friends for life with people she may never have crossed paths with otherwise. As a DofE Young Leader for her school, Hannah has found her voice speaking in front of assemblies of over 300 pupils and supporting on Expeditions. These are all things she would never have believed possible as a shy year 7 who avoided interaction. Now, a passing smile in the corridor, or stopping for a quick chat and a simple ‘how are you?’ with her DofE peers shows that she is valued. For Hannah, DofE is like a family, and she has found where she belongs.
Inspired by her older sister's experiences, Huda started her DofE journey without much confidence in her own abilities. There have been many occasions where quitting would have been the easy option, but Huda has shown courage and determination and is now reaping the benefits. Huda remembers conquering a mountain on her Silver Expedition in the Peak District. At first the 500-metre climb seemed impossible, but her team sang the whole way up and the views at the top were breathtaking. For her Bronze Physical section, Huda decided she was going to learn to swim. As the oldest in the class by some way, she initially felt self-conscious, but committed to going every week throughout her Bronze and Silver Awards and is now a competent swimmer with a lifeguard qualification next on the to-do list at Gold! Huda will use her platform as a Youth Ambassador to speak out on issues such as climate change and mental health, and is committed to removing the ‘snowflake’ stereotype that can be associated with young people today.
Isabel discovered a range of new skills and hobbies throughout her Awards. She took up bell ringing for her Bronze Skill after getting distracted by the sound of them whilst trying to do her homework! She started out as a complete beginner, but over time her confidence grew, and she began ringing at Sunday services in church and even entered a team competition whilst completing her Silver Award. When Isabel first heard about DofE, the Expedition was the section she was looking forward to the least, as she did not enjoy walking. Bronze was a challenge, but after proving to herself again and again what she was capable of, she has now found a passion for hiking. Since completing her Gold Award, Isabel has continued to push herself physically by taking on ‘Ten Tors’, navigating 35 miles on foot over 2 days in Dartmoor. Her next adventure is the ‘Action Challenge’, where she will trek 50km across Exmoor. Before DofE, Isabel lacked confidence, but she now enjoys pursuing new opportunities and wants to encourage others to do the same through her role as a Youth Ambassador.
Izzy has always been enthusiastic about doing DofE. With hobbies ranging from dancing and running to violin and textiles, she was able to spend more time doing what she loves for the Award. Covid prevented her school from offering Bronze, but she was determined to take part, so joined a Scout group 20 miles away. This proved to be a great decision as she not only made new friends, but went on to complete both Bronze and Silver, and is now about to achieve her Gold. Izzy linked her sections to her studies by volunteering as an object handler in a museum, and learning how to archive, sort and preserve documents at a local historic house. On her Expeditions, Izzy perfected her map-reading skills and now feels ready to go on a solo adventure one day! Izzy overcame the challenge of managing a severe nut allergy on a multi-day Expedition and has gained more confidence to go for opportunities independently. She hopes that her story will show others that it is possible to navigate having an allergy, doing DofE, and having fun along the way.
Julian was inspired by his mum to take part in the DofE, who has achieved her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. He discovered a passion for nature through his Volunteering section where, alongside a team of people from school, he took part in a conservation project in the local woods. The woods had been untouched for years, but Julian and his teammates have been able to make them more accessible and created a beautiful place for the community to visit and enjoy nature. Julian has a restricted growth condition which affects the growth of his bones and therefore stature. He requires physical adaptations to make everyday tasks more accessible. Julian used his daily physio exercises for his Physical section and undertook his Expedition by bike. This challenge pushed him physically and mentally. By reaching the finish line, he proved to himself what can be achieved with a positive mindset. As a Youth Ambassador, Julian wants people to know that whilst you may have to do your DofE differently, you can still get the same positive results, and it is an experience which everyone can enjoy.
Karolina first heard about DofE at school in Slovakia. At first, she didn’t really know what she was signing up for, but by saying ‘yes’, she has been able to open a whole world of new experiences. Having achieved her Bronze and Silver, she became an Ambassador for the Award back home, and since moving to the UK, has completed her Gold. Karolina credits the DofE with helping her to receive a scholarship to study in the UK and is currently doing Architecture at university in Scotland. Karolina took up knitting for her Skills section and progressed to join a club at school. She is now the President of her university’s knitting society and has used her passion to make a positive difference to other people's lives, knitting broaches and bracelets which she sold to raise vital funds for people affected by the war in Ukraine. She also knitted 52 hats which she donated to the maternity unit at a local hospital for premature babies. Karolina recently featured in the DofE’s podcast ‘Navigating Now’ and is now continuing her DofE journey as a UK Youth Ambassador.
Sport has always played an important role in Lauren’s life. She was able to focus on her passion through her Physical and Volunteering sections, playing hockey competitively for her club and developing her coaching skills to inspire juniors who were new to the game. Sport has also helped Lauren through hard times, giving her a positive outlet to focus on. The bond she has with her teammates, both on and off the pitch, has been invaluable. For her Skill section, Lauren pursued her interest in the cyber industry by building website content and continues to push boundaries when it comes to women in technology, by working on an app to promote in-home sustainability. Her determination is inspired by several female role models, including a chance encounter whilst on Expedition with a lady who was completing a charity hike, who shared her story of breaking her leg mid-way through the hike, recovering, and then continuing to reach her goal! This motivated Lauren and her group to never give up, and she applies this same attitude today to ensure she lives without regret.
Luana was born in France and moved to the UK 6 years ago. To begin with she did not know anyone, which was daunting. By joining the Air Cadets, she was able to make new friends and found that being around people from the UK helped her learn English faster. In fact, Luana can speak several languages, including French, Romanian, and Spanish, and is learning Arabic for her Silver Skills section, and plans to study languages at university. She signed up for DofE through Cadets and has rekindled her love of rollerblading, an activity she did regularly in France before stopping due to a serious accident. She now blades in her local park and several of her friends have also taken this up as a hobby! Air Cadets has played a pivotal role in Luana’s life since moving to the UK, and having access to extreme activities such as gliding and outward-bound expeditions has helped her realise her goal of becoming a Fighter Jet Pilot in the RAF, where she will travel the world, speak in different languages, and follow her dreams.
Mollie’s DofE experience didn’t get off to the best of starts. Initially not selected by her school, she had to convince her teacher to give her a place. Once signed up, Mollie made good progress and completed her Expedition, but with no training on how to record her evidence, she lost motivation and left school with her Bronze Award unfinished. Mollie said she would never participate again but was inspired by her DofE Manager at college to give DofE another chance. Since then, Mollie has flourished, taking part in an array of activities ranging from radio communications for Skill to Tabata (high intensity interval training) for Physical. Having achieved Bronze and Silver, she is now completing Gold and will be undertaking a mountaineering course for her Residential, which will stand her in good stead as she embarks on an apprenticeship as an activity instructor. Mollie was president of her college students’ union and has helped mentor other DofE students. She is determined that everyone who wants to do DofE is given the opportunity and support to do so.
Nancy has noticed a huge change in her confidence and independence throughout her DofE. She initially signed up to Bronze alongside her twin sister and chose similar activities to her friends. Nancy and her sister litter picked their local park for Volunteering, camped for the first time on Expedition, and learnt about hair and beauty for their Skill, which they turned into a successful online business! Nancy has loved being able to make new memories and form a closer bond with her sister. Now on Gold, Nancy has been on an epic journey of self-discovery and has pushed herself to stand out from the crowd and make her own decisions to positively impact her future. She has pursued her passion for netball, a sport she started from scratch at Bronze, and now represents her county. She loves public speaking and has developed this as a tutor at Success4All, a charity that supports children with academic and life skills. Nancy is committed to giving back to the Award which she says has given so much to her.
DofE provided Natasha with the opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy nature and build confidence in new environments. Passionate about climate change and with a love of geography, Natasha was excited to join a conservation group for her Volunteering section, but the real challenge was the thought of taking part with people she had never met before. Natasha was nervous about being judged or treated differently because of her visual impairment. Despite her worries, she was made to feel so welcome and found it great to interact with people from different age groups and backgrounds. The team worked in the local common, clearing paths to improve accessibility, maintaining vegetable plots, and even doing a butterfly count - whilst eating homemade cakes that one of the volunteers had brought in! It felt amazing to have made a positive impact in the community and environment. As an Ambassador, Natasha wants to help people realise what they can achieve if they put their mind to it and give everything a go!
Olivia knew that DofE was for her, having been on lots of camping trips with her dad, but she didn’t realise how impactful it would be on both her mental and physical health. Olivia’s Bronze Award was during lockdown, which was an isolating time. Inspired by Joe Wicks, she tried her own YouTube challenges. To begin with she used bags of sugar to complete the exercises but soon invested in her own set of weights. Olivia gradually noticed an improvement in her fitness levels and the regular repetition helped her get up and start the day. Now completing Silver, Olivia is spending time in the gym. Initially it was intimidating seeing the weights section packed out with males, but she made a conscious effort to focus on herself and is proud of her own achievements. Olivia also raised over £500 for cancer research through her Volunteering, taking on a 10K challenge. Her next goal is a half marathon, to continue raising money in memory of her dad. DofE has given Olivia a focus and goals to work towards and has a real belief in herself.
Philip is a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award holder, and through his Awards has learnt to never stop challenging himself. He has his heart set on a career in medicine and is studying this at university. Philip has been able to make progress towards his long-term goal throughout his DofE and enrolled in Gold with St John Ambulance, an organisation he has been involved with for many years. For Volunteering, Philip taught younger Cadets first aid, visiting local units, and delivering online courses. He is now a DofE Leader and continues to give back to the organisation which has given him so much. One of Philip’s DofE highlights was the Residential, during which he provided first aid cover at Wimbledon tennis championships. He enjoyed being able to put his training into practice and help people in need. Philip has now progressed into the role of ambulance crew, attending a range of events, and responding to emergency 999 calls. As a Youth Ambassador, Philip wants to explore ways for university students to feel more supported to complete their DofE Awards.
Poppy chose to do DofE because she wanted to push herself and discover what she was capable of. She spent a lot of time trying to fit in and saw DofE as a chance to feel more positive about herself and find her own path. As she has progressed through the Awards, she has tried activities including running, cooking, fencing, yoga, crochet, and Volunteering as an NHS Cadet. She has also set herself a long-term goal of running a marathon! Poppy is passionate about nature and took part in a conservation project in the Peak District for her Gold Residential. Her team measured peat bogs and discovered how bracken is invading the countryside and reducing biodiversity. They also visited farms and learnt how to take care of the animals. Poppy loves spending time outdoors, reading books and playing musical instruments. Poppy’s advice for anyone thinking of doing the DofE, is to make it into something personal to you and find activities that you have always wanted to try. You will feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you succeed.
Rich is an Army Cadet and has been on a journey of self-improvement throughout his DofE Awards. He has worked hard on his fitness levels and has seen a change in the way he views himself, both physically and mentally. Throughout his Physical sections he has achieved his goals through dedication and self-discipline. He started with circuit sessions and playing rugby, and now enjoys the routine of going to the gym with his friends and helping other people who are just starting out. He recognises that mental health is a real issue in today’s society and wants to support other young people to see the positives in themselves, rather than worrying about the picture-perfect lives being portrayed on social media. Rich’s DofE highlights came during his Silver Expedition. Despite a close encounter with a herd of cows and the wet weather conditions, he loved connecting with his team, finding solutions to problems, and having the freedom to be trusted to make their own decisions. The team are now firm friends and still reminisce about their Expedition journey!
Tarian remembers watching with admiration as the older students at her school packed their rucksacks and headed out on their DofE Expedition each year. So, when the time came for her and her friends to get involved, she jumped at the chance! Tarian has played football for as long as she can remember and has represented her club since year 7, now playing in goal for the ladies’ team. She loves being able to pass on her passion to other people and took on a coaching role for her Silver Volunteering section. This involved planning and running sessions for children aged 4-11 who were new to the sport. She felt proud when some of the parents commented on what an amazing coach she was, and without knowing it at the time, she also inspired them to get their boots on and join the adult team! Tarian recognises that without the support and dedication of her DofE Leader, none of this would have been possible and wants to ensure that more schools and colleges are offering the opportunity to their students.
Thomas has a real passion for basketball. He has watched as several of his friends have been scouted to play in America and hopes one day to do the same. Thomas says that without DofE, he would never have tried refereeing, and this has given him a newfound appreciation of the role of a referee on the court, making split second decisions, controlling the play, and resolving disputes. He was also inspired by the leadership skills demonstrated by the instructors on his wildlife and conservation Residential for Gold, which he has taken back into his own coaching role, inspiring younger players who are new to the sport. As someone who is usually a leader on the court, through the Expedition section Thomas developed his ability to empathise and be patient. From supporting a teammate who was poorly by carrying their rucksack, to taking the time to listen to the quietest member of the team (who it turns out was the best at navigating!) Thomas’s DofE Expedition taught him the valuable lesson that everyone's voice deserves to be heard.
Thomas describes his DofE as a transformative experience. What he’s seen and learnt along the way has given him a sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to others. Bronze Volunteering was for an online organisation called Missing Maps, where he helped to map locations at risk of natural disasters or crises to support future humanitarian aid missions. This opened his eyes to the challenging conditions people are subjected to across the globe. For Silver he baked cakes for a small charity called Little Bakers, with money raised supporting families in Ukraine. The Silver Expedition took Thomas out of the city into the Brecon Beacons, where he discovered a love for the outdoors and the breathtaking mountain views. He had a realisation about how much better he felt without the reliance of his phone and has now phased social media out of his life. Inspired, Thomas now plans on undertaking a pilgrimage across Spain which is a gruelling 23 kilometres per day for 35 days.
Tryphene’s goal is to encourage others to speak up on the issues they care about. She has successfully tackled the topics of racism and discrimination in school, which is something that she has experienced herself growing up. By raising awareness of these issues in society, people can be supported to feel understood and included, regardless of their backgrounds. Tryphene has implemented change within her school by running assemblies for several year groups during Black History Month, and meeting with school leaders to change the school's curriculum. This led to helping design and run her school's first ever culture day, which raised over £500 for charity. Empowered by her success on a local level, Tryphene is now planning a culture catwalk as part of Leeds Year of Culture 2023, where she will raise awareness on the range of cultures and faiths living together in the city. Tryphene has become a DofE Youth Ambassador to work with other likeminded people from across the UK, to make a positive impact on a larger scale.
Ved is a musician and has explored this passion further through his DofE. For Bronze, he volunteered for a charity called Kissing it Better, working to end the isolation of old age by bringing generations together. Ved recorded videos of him playing saxophone and sent them off to care homes. The response he received was overwhelmingly positive and it was gratifying to know he was able to make a difference. He plays in the jazz orchestra and is now working on composing and arranging his own pieces for his Silver skill section. Through repeated practice and a dedication to build his experience, Ved’s dream is to one day have his own touring jazz band! Ved wants to create pathways for young people to get into music through their DofE Award, as he knows first-hand the benefits this can bring. Ved’s advice for someone about to start their own Award is to take it one week at a time, set small attainable goals which you can work towards, and take pride in the progress you are making.
Before doing DofE, Zainab had never been camping, but the idea of having an adventure away from home with friends drove her to sign up for Bronze. Although she initially found her Expedition challenging, she pushed herself outside her comfort zone and found a new determination to succeed. For Skills, she learnt Arabic and developed her academic writing, which even led to one of her articles being published by a university professor! But after being diagnosed with a heart condition part way through her Silver Award, it was touch and go whether Zainab would even get the chance to complete her Expedition. Thankfully, after the thumbs-up from her doctor, she was able to join her friends in the Dorset countryside and was rewarded with a traditional fish and chips dinner followed by ice-cream on the beach at the end of a challenging 3-day hike. DofE has sparked Zainab’s taste for adventure, and she plans to take a gap year after finishing her A-Levels to travel Europe and explore famous historical sites.
Zak believes that the purpose of DofE is to make you a better version of yourself, by getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new! As someone who grew up in the city, opportunities were not always readily available, and he relished the chance to explore the countryside on his Expeditions, giving him the opportunity to switch off from the digital age and get out in nature. Zak has worked hard to develop his confidence and found structure and discipline through his Physical section, where he took up boxing. He is now at university, completing his Gold Award through DofE Direct and one day aspires to become a Barrister. He is a founding ambassador for the charity Youth Network, helping young people develop new skills and giving them a voice, particularly those who struggle to be heard. DofE taught Zak to seize every opportunity and he hopes to inspire more young people to do the Award, achieve their dreams and discover what they are truly capable of.