Young people inspired by Duke of Edinburgh scheme
A young doctor from Belfast has praised the awards scheme founded by Prince Philip as a platform to meet people and even forge a career.
Ellen Beattie was presented with her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award by the Duke himself at Holyrood in Edinburgh in 2016.
The former Victoria College pupil opted for the Edinburgh ceremony over Hillsborough Castle as she was studying medicine at Glasgow University at the time.
“He was really nice when he came around to talk to everyone,” she said.
“He asked quite a lot of us all where we had done [our awards], what we had done for our skills, what we had done for our physical activity.
“He was really interested in finding out how people had found their trips and expeditions, and was really nice for the short time I was with him.
“You have to put in quite a lot of effort, so the ceremony is quite a nice thing to mark the occasion.”
Ellen said the volunteering element of the scheme helped her decide on a career in medicine.
“I did my Bronze award in third year and I started volunteering with Cancer Focus as my volunteering part. So I started at the charity shop on the Lisburn Road and did that for about five or six years until I left school.
“Then whenever I went to do my Gold I helped out in the Ulster Hospital on one of the wards on a Sunday – helping the nurses, speaking with patients and handing out teas and coffees.
“That was really helpful for me as I am now a doctor in the Ulster Hospital. The volunteering gave me a push in the direction of where I wanted to be, and I learned a lot.”
Ellen also praised the social aspect of DofE.
“It’s also a good way to meet people. I did my Gold with the Belfast Activity Centre so I met people from different schools.”