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The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar present The Queen’s Award

Prince Andrew with the Gordonstoun Fire Service

Earlier in June, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the three 2022 recipients from Moray:

  • Gordonstoun Fire Service
  • Moray Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Committee
  • Moray Food Plus

With individual presentations to each group, it formed an integral part of The Earl and Countess’ trip to the Scottish lieutenancy (see bottom for more pictures). We caught up with Derek Thomson from the Moray Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Committee to tell us more about their presentation, the group’s work, and its importance to Moray. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the group’s work?

The role of the committee is to support the volunteers who facilitate the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Moray. This can be in the form of mentoring or financial support, or funding various courses such as: First Aid, Mountain Leader, Low Hills supervisor etc. Our volunteers range in age from late teens to nineties, and are involved as group leaders, expedition trainers or as an instructor of a particular sport or craft, such as playing a musical instrument or teaching archery. Some of our volunteers have been with us throughout the 32 years of the committee’s existence whilst others have joined us fairly recently.

How does the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award relate to Moray?

The Award derives from the Moray Badge which was founded at Gordonstoun School in Moray. The first school to participate was Elgin Academy and we are currently in the process of establishing a Heritage trail for the Award in Moray using plaques and large stones, in addition to a garden which provides a history of the Award with a place to stop and contemplate.

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Forfar meeting volunteers in front of Heritage Stones marking 60 years of the Award. From the left behind the stones: Vince Stuart and daughter Maisie (Vice Chairperson and posy presenter) Michael Morley (Previous Committee Chair) Janis Thomson (First Development Officer for the Award in Moray and now committee member) Donna Hendry (Expedition Supervisor and committee member).

What happened at the presentation event?

The presentation took place in the DofE Heritage Trail Garden on the 28 June 2022 at 3pm. The event was a combined affair with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar meeting with personnel who had worked or provided resources for the Heritage Garden project. The certificate and crystal was presented to Janis Thomson, who sits on the committee as chairperson, but was the original development officer for the Award 32 years ago!

Prince Edward presents QAVs crystal to Janis Thomson watched by committee volunteers and Award participants with committee Chairperson Derek Thomson in attendance.

What does The Queen’s Award mean to the group?

“This is a tremendous honour and we feel that it recognises the time, effort and commitment that each person gives to The Award. So often volunteers remain the unsung heroes of an organisation but, in this case, we are able to thank them by having their contributions rewarded in such a public way”

Deputy Lord Lieutenant George McIntyre reading QAVS citation

Do you have any plans for the future?

We plan to open the Award up to even more participants by creating new groups with schools. We hope to have a number of Open award Centres throughout the region, including within businesses, as well as constantly recruiting new volunteers to support the Award in the future. The Heritage Project will continue to grow with the development of new sites and points of interest, highlighting the history of the Award in Moray.

Maisie Stuart, daughter of Vince Stuart, Vice-Chairperson presenting Sophie, Countess of Forfar with a posy.

Additional pictures from the Moray visit:

Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, on the visit to his old school Gordonstoun, inspecting the Gordonstoun Fire Service. (Credit: Peter Jolly)
Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex, presenting the Queen’s Award to Gordonstoun Fire Service. (Credit: Peter Jolly)
Sophie, the Countess of Forfar, packing bags at Moray Food Plus. (Credit: Tim Rooke / The Palace)
Sophie the Countess of Wessex on a visit to Gordonstoun. (Credit: Peter Jolly)