Triple Gold NI family’s tribute to ‘ahead of its time’ DofE award scheme

The first father and son to earn a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award have praised Prince Philip for creating a youth programme “far ahead of its time”.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 3:25 pm

Donald McBride and son Stephen travelled from Belfast to Buckingham Palace in 1981 when Prince Philip presented Stephen with the scheme’s highest award.

Donald, now aged 80, completed his own Gold award in 1960, as a member of the 72nd Boys’ Brigade company in north Belfast, just four years after the Duke launched the programme.

The high-achieving McBride family also has a third generation Gold award holder with Stephen’s son Alex making the grade in 2016.

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Donald and Stephen McBride, the first father and son to receive the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, with Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace in 1981.

Stephen paid tribute to the Duke for his “service and commitment to a great variety of causes”.

He said: “The photomontages of him and tributes that have been broadcast over recent days reveal a person who lived his life to the fullest and encouraged those around him to take risks and live life on the edge where possible.

“He has led by example and in everything he was connected with, he gave of himself to the fullest. The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme was far ahead of its time in 1956 and its success is to be seen in its thriving 65 years later.

“Of the many legacies that the Duke has given his name to during his life, this is surely one of the most enduring in that it is open to every young adult to participate in throughout the Commonwealth.”

Grandfather Donald McBride, his son Stephen and Stephen’s son Alex are all holders of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Stephen – a Church of Ireland vicar in Antrim and Archdeacon of Connor – said he did most of his work for the Gold through completing the disciplines necessary for gaining his Queen’s Badge in the 118th Belfast BB company, attached to Holy Trinity parish in north Belfast, and then gained his Gold in 1979 “through the Scout troop attached to Inst (RBAI) under the leadership of the late Ronnie Hiscocks”.

Stephen added: “I went to Buckingham Palace in 1981 with three other pupils who had also gained their Gold awards.”

He has fond memories of his day in London

“At the Palace we had a short meeting with Duke. My memory of the day was one of awe in getting the opportunity of meeting the Duke in person, even if it was for such a short period of time,” he recalled.

Stephen’s son Alex completed his Gold through Antrim Grammar School and both Donald and Stephen accompanied him to Kensington Palace to receive the Award in February 2016.

Stephen said: “Even though we just missed out on being the first grandfather, father and son to gain the Award, we were presented to the Duke. It was a privilege to have another opportunity to meet him.

“On this occasion, I was so impressed at how a man who was 94 was blessed with such energy. He did his best to engage with every recipient in the room and make them feel special.”

Alex, 27, is now a P7 teacher in Antrim Primary School.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh scheme has given me many life skills which have helped me in the development of my career.”

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