The scheme which inspired the worldwide success of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards is to be reborn in its Moray homeland to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
The Moray Badge was created at Gordonstoun in the 1930s with the aim of giving students an education beyond academic subjects.
When the school’s founder Kurt Hahn wanted to take it nationwide, Prince Philip offered his own title to the programme.
Moray Badge aims to encourage children to shake off restrictions of pandemic
Now the badge has been relaunched on what would have been the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th to encourage children in Moray to shake off the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic by throwing themselves into new pursuits.
It is hoped primary and secondary school pupils will take up new sports and outdoor activities including beachcombing and nature walks throughout the next year.
Moray Lord Lieutenant Major General Seymour Monro instigated the revival of the inspiration for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards as part of the local celebrations for the Queen’s upcoming platinum jubilee.
He said: “We decided to re-run it because it’s special to Moray, and there is that strong link to Prince Philip and thus the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which has benefitted millions of children around the world.
“We want local schoolchildren to take inspiration from that and set themselves challenges which will help them grow in confidence and self-esteem.”
School’s ‘hugely excited’ about plans
Before Prince Philip’s death, the lord lieutenant wrote to him to inform him of the plans to revive the Moray Badge.
However, he was not able to respond before his death.
A letter written by his daughter, Princess Anne, explained her father had taken an interest in the plans and she was pleased to see it relaunched on what would have been his 100th birthday.
Gordonstoun principal Lisa Kerr said: “The Moray Badge was established so that local children could benefit from the Gordonstoun ethos and grow in confidence by challenging themselves.
“Whilst at Gordonstoun, Prince Philip learned lifesaving skills, went on expeditions and completed various other physical challenges to attain the silver Moray Badge, which was the top award.
“He went on to coach children from other schools gain their Moray Badge. He would have loved to see local children set out to win similar awards all these years later.”
Elgin Academy head teacher Kyle Scott said: “As a school we are hugely excited about the launch of the Moray Badge.
“We feel it will be a fantastic opportunity for us to develop new skills and gain recognition for this.”
What are the pupils looking forward to?
The Moray Badge, which will only run in the next academic year, will work in a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards – while also being open to primary school pupils.
Children will earn points to go towards winning brass, copper or platinum badges.
Yahya Uqaili, 17, who is a Year 12 student at Gordonstoun originally from the Falkland Islands, is eager to test himself in the programme.
He said: “I just finished my silver Duke of Edinburgh and am working towards my gold now.
“Challenges are something I enjoy. The awards have certainly helped me to learn that with adversities you need to push yourself to get through them.”
Rose MacPherson-Grant, 10, has already completed a junior Duke of Edinburgh award.
She said: “I really liked learning new things. I think the best thing was growing celery, because it took time and you had to take a lot of care with it.”
Tribute for Prince Philip’s 100th birthday
Meanwhile, a plaque has been unveiled by Moray Council to celebrate Prince Philip’s connection to the area through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme.
The memorial has been erected outside the authority’s Elgin High Street headquarters and will form a trail with similar tributes at Moray College UHI, Elgin Academy and Gordonstoun.
Karen Delaney, Moray Council’s former Duke of Edinburgh manager, said: “Moray should celebrate the history and evolving story of DofE as an internationally recognised, challenging, self-development award for young people and the amazing staff and volunteers who support them on their unique journey.”