A cheque worth £30,000 was officially presented by the Somerset Freemasons to the Somerset Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Bursary Fund during a ceremony on Saturday, 17 September.
The Somerset Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Bursary Fund offers grants to enable disadvantaged young people in Somerset to complete a DofE programme.
The event, which took place at Kilve Court Outdoor Residential Centre near Bridgwater, celebrated the DofE Bursary Fund and the support it has provided to disadvantaged young people in Somerset.
The celebration included a presentation by Young Somerset about the impact of the award on young people, and a talk from new Bridgwater special school Polden Bower about their experience having received bursary funding this year. Individuals who benefited from the bursary fund also attended to share their experiences.
Any young person in Somerset who needs to can access the bursary fund to do their award, whether as a remote participant, through a school, college or in a group such as Guides or Scouts. The bursary committee works hard to ensure that all DofE leaders across the county know about the bursary fund and opportunities available.
The Somerset DofE team is experienced in working with young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to create an individual and flexible plan to support any young person to achieve their award.
Ben Batley, deputy head of the Freemasons in Somerset, said: “I am honoured on behalf of all the members of the 89 Lodges that represent Somerset Freemasons to have presented a cheque donation of £30,000 to allow for disadvantaged participants to take part in the DofE Award Scheme across the county. The donation, with previous funding provided over the past five years, will ensure Somerset Freemasons’ support of the bursary for over a decade.
“Our donation to the Bursary Fund, this year in memory of HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, will see around 400 young people develop their own personal key life skills through the DofE Awards. I would like to thank members for their contributions.”
Carol Authers, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Operations Manager at Somerset County Council, said: “This is a significant amount of money for us and will go a long way to help disadvantaged young people who would like to do their award. We can help support alternative education provision, ensuring that everyone can gain this highly recognised qualification.
“I can’t thank the Freemasons enough for their continued support and would like to thank them for their donation on behalf of everyone in the Somerset DofE Team.”
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said: “The celebration event was interesting and absorbing, as well as great fun, and it especially good to see the young people.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the work of the Somerset DofE team, and I am so glad the Freemasons decided to make such a generous donation to our bursary fund. The scheme is there to remove the barriers that some of our young people face, and this contribution will make it go so much further.”
Those aged between 14-24 living in Somerset who would like to know more are encouraged to get in touch by emailing DofE@somerset.gov.uk
Since the DofE Awards began in 1956, over 6.7 million young people in the UK have participated. Young people do DofE programmes at one of three progressive levels. When successfully completed, this leads to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. For more information about the scheme, visit: www.dofe.org
Notes to news editors
The term ‘disadvantaged’ in this news release is defined by criteria used to access the Somerset Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Bursary Fund. This includes: young carers, looked after young people, care leavers, those eligible for free school meals or from a family in receipt of income support of maximum working credits, young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) or those diagnosed with a mental health condition.
A DofE Media Pack is available at: www.dofe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/DofE-Media-Pack.pdf