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Our history

Download a history of the DofE from 1956-2011 here.

As you can see from the timeline below, we have had amazing achievements since the DofE was first set up:


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Boys established and chaired by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.  Sir (later Lord) John Hunt appointed Director.  The programmes consist of four sections, rescue & public service, expeditions, pursuits & projects, and fitness.


7,000 boys have started DofE programmes and 1,000 Awards have been achieved.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Girls is piloted with a programme consisting of design for living, adventure, interests and service.  The first Gold Awards are achieved and presented at Buckingham Palace.  Pilot projects start in eleven Commonwealth countries.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award becomes a charitable trust.


35,000 boys & 7,000 girls now participating.


Three area and three regional offices established in the United Kingdom.  The DofE is now operating in 22 countries worldwide.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Young People (both men and women) aged 14 to 21 launched.  The service, expeditions and interests sections were available at all levels to everyone. However, at Bronze and Silver young women took design for living and young men physical activity.  At Gold, participants could choose between the latter two sections and had to complete a residential project.


One million young people have now participated in DofE programmes.


One programme for all young people aged between 14 and 24 consisting of service, expeditions, skills, physical recreation and an additional residential project at Gold.

1986 HRH The Prince Edward achieves his Gold Award.

The 100,000th Gold Award presented.  HRH The Prince Edward sets up Special Projects Committee to fund outreach projects.


The International Award Association is established.


Young people starting programmes since 1956 crosses the two million mark.


Charter for Business launched, recruiting major businesses to support the DofE financially and by promoting it to their staff.  Over one million Awards have been achieved.


Participants can now choose the section on which they will spend the longest time.  103,000 new participants and over 48,899 Awards achieved in the year.


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh hands over the Chairmanship of Trustees to Sir Tom Farmer but remains as Patron.


Expedition section completely overhauled to offer greater flexibility whilst retaining the challenge.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award celebrates its 50th Anniversary and is awarded a Royal Charter.


Over 275,000 young people are taking part in DofE programmes at any one time in the UK.  Participation and the number of Awards achieved continue to rise year on year.


New look and feel for the Charity developed and launched.


eDofE, an interactive online management system was launched, revolutionising the way participants record their DofE activities and achievements.


The Lord Kirkham takes over as Chair of Trustees from Sir Tom Farmer.  
Groundbreaking independent research, supported by the Pears Foundation, is published which proves the amazing impact the DofE has on young people who take part (read the Executive Summary here).

2012 and beyond

Awards achieved continue to rise every year - now over 83,000 each year.  Our ambition is to double the number of young people who take part.