Prince Philip was “in top form” and “very witty” when he met recipients of the gold Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) award in Hillsborough last night.
Seventy-five young achievers and their parents received their certificates in person from the Duke in the Throne Room of Hillsborough Castle.
Kerry Jones from Royal School Dungannon said the experience lived up to her expectations.
“He was willing to talk to people and he was very witty.
“He took plenty of time with us and he obviously still has so much enthusiasm for the scheme. Tonight was everything we hoped it would be.
“Even getting inside to see around the building was great as we had never been in before,” said Kerry.
Kerry’s father Ralph added: “He [Prince Philip] was in top form. He spoke to the parents as well which was nice, and he asked if there were any parents who had done the Duke of Edinburgh award.”
The award scheme was established in 1956 and at any one time more than 275,000 young people are taking part in DofE programmes in the UK alone.
Over the 58 years of its existence the scheme has expanded to 140 other countries.
DofE awards recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises modelled on Kurt Hahn’s solution to the ‘Six Declines of Modern Youth’.
Cherry McDonald, who completed her award while at Banbridge Academy, said: “The Duke was very entertaining and took time to chat to everybody. He was very friendly and took an interest in all our skills.”
A memorable week for Cherry will be complete when she graduates as a qualified teacher from the University of Ulster next Monday.
Proud father Gary said: “It’s been a great day and everyone has been fantastic. We’ve all been treated really well.”
Another of those at last night’s reception was Clodagh McCreevy, from the Patrician Youth Centre in Downpatrick, who became the 1,000th young person to receive the DofE certificate in the Province.