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Orchard School Bristol

A right royal day for Orchard School

Published on 13/03/20

Earl of Wessex meets school DoE participants and student leaders

Gallery of images here

HRH The Earl of Wessex spent time with young people, teachers and volunteers from across Horfield and Southmead who are involved in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) last week during a visit to Orchard School Bristol.

The visit was planned to thank local schools and organisations who run the DofE for their young people and showcase how doing the DofE could benefit more young people, schools, business and youth organisations in the area who are not yet involved. 

Orchard School use #iwill funding, through the DofE’s Diamond Fund, in order to be able to support some of their disadvantaged students to be able to do their DofE.  The impact of this funding has meant that numbers doing the DofE have doubled to around 60 and half of our participants are in receipt of Free School Meals. 

During his visit, The Earl met students and heard more about their experience taking part in the DofE. Students demonstrated their rucksack packing skills, tentcraft and map reading as well discussing their voluntary work. He also heard about how they are using funding from the #iwill Fund, through the DofE’s Diamond Fund, to expand their DofE offering. The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to a £50 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.

He then met representatives of the school’s student leadership team.  Orchard School currently has 10 student leadership groups with almost 1/3 of the school involved in leadership activities including Student Ambassadors, Library Leaders, Prefects, Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, Healthy Heroes and Community Champions. And he met representatives from the handball team.  Last year our under 13 boys were National Champions and they proudly showed off their cup and winners photo to The Earl.

Orchard School Headteacher Julia Hinchliffe said: “The students were very excited to meet The Earl today. The Earl showed a genuine interest in the students’ progress on their DofE.

“The DofE offers an unrivalled opportunity for students to develop their skills and character in a wide range of activities and voluntary work.”

Orchard School DoE co-ordinator and teacher of English Kirsty Newcombe said: ““Our students get huge benefit from all the aspects of their DofE work but crucially, they also thoroughly enjoy taking part. It is a scheme which rewards those students who put the most into it and we have seen some real success in the several years we have been running the scheme here.  I am immensely proud of all our participants and offer them congratulations on their extraordinary achievements.”

The Earl was joined by Bristol’s Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding, Sheriff Charles Wyld and DofE Donor and Supporter Andrew Fletcher, as well as Craig Lambourne, Chair of Governors at Orchard School.

The visit follows on from the recent launch of The Experience List: 25 of the best character hacks for teens, a checklist of 25 experiences that can build teenagers’ confidence, independence and resilience, supporting their positive mental health and wellbeing and standing them in good stead for success in the workplace and beyond. To build the list, the DofE surveyed more than 4,000 people including members of the public, business leaders, education professionals, parents and young people. Many of the experiences and activities that appear on the List can be done as part of the DofE.

Achieving a DofE Award helps young people to enhance both personal and professional skills, empowering them to unlock their potential. It provides young people with the opportunity to have new experiences whilst volunteering, learning a skill, getting fit, planning and going on an expedition and, at Gold Level, taking part in a residential activity. Any young person aged 14-24 years old can do their DofE, regardless of ability, gender, background or location and it isn’t a competition or about being first; it’s all about setting personal challenges and pushing personal boundaries.

Heather Thompson, Director - South West at The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, added: “Doing the DofE takes young people out of their comfort zone and supports them in building a vital set of skills for life and work, such as confidence, resilience and communication, as well as providing the foundations for life-long friendships.

For further information on the DofE, visit