An army medic from Northern Ireland has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, describing the scheme he created as “opening the doors” for his career.
The medic known as Sam, 28, now a Reservist Corporal with 204 Field Hospital and a foundation level (F1) doctor in Belfast, described the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme as having “shaped his future”.
“For me, the Duke of Edinburgh Award was a door opener.
“It got me interested in healthcare through 18 months volunteering in a retirement home, made me step out into the mountains of Northern Ireland, and it helped set me up for a career in the military by joining the Air Cadets,” he said.
“I completed my Gold DoE award back in 2014 through a mixture of school and the Air Cadets.
“I was presented my award by Prince Edward,” he said.
“After you have received your award you can volunteer to return in the future and help run the event and HRH attended the following year when I went back to assist.
“I met the Duke of Edinburgh personally when I was attending my brother’s ceremony.
“Normally the recipients stand in the centre of the room, with parents seated along the walls.
“There were a few empty seats and so I was told to sit at the front to fill it up.
“When the duke walked in, he looked at me and said ‘Oh you’re awfully young to have a child here getting an award.
“‘There mustn’t be much to get up to in Northern Ireland these days!’
“To this day I still love outdoor spaces and adventure training and I’m trying to get qualified to take groups out myself.”
Sam said he was shocked to hear of the duke’s death.
“He was a larger-than-life character and it almost felt that he would last forever, he was just part and parcel of the UK,” he said.
“He was a man from a different time, and I found him hilarious and inspirational.
“My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”