Former Worthing Sea Scouts leader remembers Prince Philip

I had the privilege of meeting Prince Philip on five occasions in connection with my work with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award writes Neville Goddard of Chippers Close, Worthing.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 3:07 pm
Prince Philip carried the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich (Photo: Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

My involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award began in 1969 when I was a leader with the 8th Worthing Sea Scouts and decided to introduce the award scheme to the Sea Scouts to enhance the range of activities available to them.

During the following eight years a total of 96 Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards were achieved by the Sea Scouts. A highlight was the annual training expedition in the Lake District lasting a week at Easter. In 1977, I was appointed full-time Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Officer for Bradford Metropolitan Council including the role of being leader of the city’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Centre, where I build up a team of over 30 voluntary leaders supporting over 200 young people participating in the award scheme at any one time.

In addition, I became an assessor with the award’s Yorkshire Dales Expedition Panel, of which I subsequently became secretary.

These two key roles meant that I attended the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award national conferences over the years at which Prince Philip was much more than just a figurehead.

He chaired these important meetings and displayed a deep understanding of the day-to-day running of the award at grass roots level.

Before resuming after the lunch break, Prince Philip circulated round all the delegates and insisted on talking to everyone.

His style immediately put everyone at ease, as he took a keen interest in what each person’s specific involvement in the award was.

He always looked you in the eye and you were left in no doubt that he had a genuine interest in what you told him.

I particularly recall one occasion when he visited delegated and participants of the Award’s Northeast Region gathered together at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, where Prince Philip arrived by a helicopter that he was piloting himself.

As he took off at the end all the delegated and participants assembled into the form of the DofE logo, which must have impressed the Duke, because he circled round to look down on us.

Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award carried on flourishing in the 8th Worthing after I moved on and has continued to thrive there over the many years since.

Some of the former 8th Worthing Sea Scouts who undertook the award in the 70s still gather in the Lake District every Easter, and I always join them there. But for the coronavirus we would have celebrated our 50 anniversary there at Easter 2020.

After retiring from my job in Bradford I returned to Worthing, but I have continued my involvement with the Duke of

Edinburgh’s Award by spending about a fortnight each summer as a voluntary expedition assessor in the Lake District until coronavirus interrupted.