Our stories

Array of opportunities through the Award


Sophia Wells, 2019 Gold Award Recipient

Everyone talks about the array of opportunities young people have today, and I’ve found Duke of Ed to emphasise exactly that.

From heading out and challenging yourself by kayaking down rapids, to getting out in the community and meeting some pretty inspirational New Zealanders, to pushing through your comfort zones and taking on new skills – the journey is exciting and varied all the way through.

2014 me had no idea what Duke of Ed was all about. My only insight was seeing my friend come back after a two-day tramp in the rain, a big smile on her face, and covered head-to-toe in mud. I thought that looked like a great time so signed right up, and over the past four years haven’t looked back once. 

I’ve never been good at picking just one passion to pursue, and I think that’s one of the things I’ve loved best about the DoE journey – the ability to pursue anything you can possibly dream up, and really get an opportunity to explore many different experiences. For me, volunteer firefighting, Air Cadets, music, swimming and rifle shooting could all be fostered under the award, and I was over-the-moon that I could work towards an award just by doing what I loved. 

Whether you start from Bronze, or are a direct entrant to Silver or Gold, the value of leaping in and challenging yourself both physically and mentally will shape the person you become and continue to make a positive impact on the years to follow. Enjoy the journey, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, and just go for it!