ScotRail hosts royal visit at Fort William to commemorate DofE Diamond Anniversary

Thursday, 7 July 2016

HRH The Earl of Wessex today met ScotRail staff at Fort William railway station to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).

The event, hosted by ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Phil Verster, was also attended by the Lord Lieutenant Donald A Cameron of Locheil and Deputy Lieutenant Iain Thornber, as well as ScotRail apprentices in customer service and engineering.

The Earl was welcomed by Phil Verster, before the two pedalled the first mile - on static bikes - of a 348-mile cycle challenge being undertaken by ScotRail’s apprentices as part of their Diamond Challenge.

Achieving a Gold Award with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a key component of ScotRail’s modern apprenticeship programme, with around 40 apprentices attaining the accolade since the programme began in 2011. It consists of five elements, all undertaken throughout ScotRail’s apprenticeship programme: volunteering, physical, skills, expedition and residential.

Currently 11 apprentices – six engineers and five in customer service roles – are working towards the Award.

Robert Yule, a ticket examiner at Dalmuir, completed his DofE Gold Award in 2015 as part of ScotRail’s modern apprenticeship programme. The 23-year-old from Bishopbriggs, Glasgow said: “Completing the Gold Award was a great experience, which gave me a chance to really get to know my fellow apprentices from the outset. I’m a big fan of the outdoors so I very much enjoyed the final expedition where I spent five days hiking and camping as part of a group. Overall, my favourite part was the volunteering element, where I spent time helping young children at a local sports coaching group.”

As part of the DofE’s Diamond Anniversary, HRH The Earl of Wessex is visiting venues across the UK to celebrate the hard work of DofE volunteers as well as the successes of those taking part in challenges.

Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance’s Managing Director, said: “I am immensely proud of our all our apprentices who have worked very hard towards attaining a Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to gain invaluable skills and real life experience which will stay with them forever.

“We are honoured to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex to Fort William to help us celebrate the Diamond Anniversary.”

Peter Westgarth, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: ‘As we celebrate 60 years of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, it’s clear that the charity is an integral part of life in Scotland which has played an invaluable role in the development of so many young people in the community. It’s fantastic to see ScotRail recognised for the outstanding work it does within its communities and enormous thanks must be given to the everyone in ScotRail who works tirelessly to ensure that every DofE participant makes the most of this wonderful opportunity.’

To find out more about The DofE Diamond Challenge and get involved visit:

HRH The Earl of Wessex will be visiting a number of regions continuing his DofE Diamond Anniversary Tour of the UK until October 2016.



Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: Sarah Miles: [email protected], 01733 294 543

ScotRail: Katrina Wilkie: [email protected], 0141 335 4269


About ScotRail’s Modern Apprenticeship Programme:

Modern Apprenticeship in Customer Service: The 18-month-long scheme - a UK rail industry first - sees apprentices work towards achieving a Level 2 Scottish Vocational Qualification in Customer Service as well as a Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. During the programme, they are trained, paid and given placements in four key frontline customer service roles - station booking office, gateline, ticket examiner and on-train hospitality host.

Since launched, the scheme has gained cross-party support and has also seen ScotRail pick up Best Newcomer at the 2011 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Modern Apprenticeship in Customer Service: The four-year programme sees apprentices spending their first year in full-time study with the remaining three years spent training at ScotRail depots. Apprentices work towards achieving an HNC in Electrical Engineering as well as Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award.

About The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award:

Since it was founded in 1956, the DofE has transformed the lives of millions of young people in the UK and across the globe, helping them to gain valuable life experience and develop new skills. Although the DofE is usually limited to 14-24 year olds, in its Diamond Anniversary year the charity is calling on people of all ages to sign up to the Diamond Challenge and have an adventure, learn a new skill or challenge themselves personally.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award that develops over 300,000 young people for life and work every year in the UK.

Through achieving their Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE Awards, 14-24 year olds from all backgrounds and circumstances have the unique opportunity to grow as young adults; gaining valuable life experience whilst developing essential employability skills. Setting their own challenges, they learn practical skills, improve their fitness, volunteer in their community, plan and go on an adventurous expedition and, for Gold, they also spend time away from home with people they’ve never met, completing a shared activity.

The DofE develops tenacity, commitment and determination, admirable attributes that have a lasting impact, broadening each young person’s life and work prospects.

The DofE is run all over the UK under licence by over 1,200 partners who offer it in over 13,000 DofE centres – including schools and academies, youth clubs, businesses, voluntary organisations and young offender institutions – which are run and supported by around 50,000 adult volunteers.

The DofE is a charity and therefore dependent on charitable giving to sustain and grow the DofE so more young people can take part and transform their lives.

For more information please visit

About The DofE’s Diamond Anniversary:

2016 is The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s Diamond Anniversary, celebrating 60 years since The DofE was founded by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956.

During its Diamond Anniversary year the DofE will celebrate the achievements of millions of young people across the UK and the world whose lives have been transformed by their DofE experience, thank the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that have made that experience possible and fundraise for the future so the DofE Charity can continue to reach out to more young people.

At 60 years young, the DofE has never been more relevant for young people in the UK, providing a tried and tested framework of activities through which young people gain vital life and work skills. In the last 60 years, over 5.6 million young people have started their DofE in the UK and almost 2.5 million have achieved Awards.

The DofE has set a Diamond Ambition to enable two million young people to take part in the DofE by 2020, 400,000 of whom will be from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The DofE is planning an array of activities, royal visits and events across the year to celebrate and raise funds to boost this ambition.

About the DofE Diamond Challenge:

The DofE is launching the DofE Diamond Challenge in 2016 to celebrate its Diamond Anniversary and give anyone and everyone a flavour of the life-changing benefits of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, all whilst generating funds for the Charity so that it can reach out to even more young people in the future and offer free places and bursary grants to those most in need.

People can register for the DofE Diamond Challenge at and challenges can take place between 1 January and 31 December.

Signing up to the Challenge has an amazing double benefit – whilst challenging yourself and pushing your own boundaries, you’re also raising money for the DofE Charity so that it can transform the lives of more young people and offer free places and bursary grants to those most in need.

You can also follow The DofE on Twitter (@DofE) and like us on Facebook (The DofE).