HRH The Duke of Edinburgh first considered the idea of a national programme to support young people’s development in the autumn of 1954 at the request of his inspiring former headmaster, Kurt Hahn.
In the post-war era, His Royal Highness wanted to bridge the gap between leaving formal education at 15 and entering into National Service at 18, so that young men made the best use of their free time, found interests and acquired self-confidence and a sense of purpose that would support them into their future and help them to become well-rounded citizens.
Following discussions with the Minister of Education in 1955, The Duke of Edinburgh consulted a number of national voluntary youth organisations with a ‘boy’ membership with a view to starting a pilot.
Led by Sir John Hunt (later Lord Hunt), who provided the necessary administration and co-ordination amongst the partner organisations as the first Director, a pilot for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was launched in February 1956. The programme had four sections; Rescue and Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits and Projects, and fitness, which would holistically support, guide and upskill young men as The Duke envisaged.