Terry Heyward, 66, was acting as a marshal at a Duke of Edinburgh gold award presentation at St James’s Palace in London when he found himself on the receiving end of an award himself - for long service.
Terry is currently the coordinator of the Open Duke of Edinburgh’s Centre in Haywards Heath, and also assists several West Sussex schools’ centres.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme is designed to take young people through a challenging and rewarding programme of personal development with three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Terry has spent 20 years volunteering and has been known to help out with up to 15 expeditions each year which he recalls as life-changing for some young people as they experience a ‘realisation of self-worth and occasionally a real spiritual awakening on a mountain summit’.
Terry said: “My children started their journey through bronze, silver and gold levels of the DofE award. I was invited to join the team at the Dolphin Project at Bytes Youth Cafe, the forerunner of the Open Centre, about 2002.
“The Award nurtures young people physically, mentally and spiritually. It encourages them to break out of their comfort zone, try new things and give time to benefit the community.
“It encourages the development of skills and qualities including planning, risk assessment, initiative, leadership, determination, empathy, teamwork, commitment; all things they need for life as an adult.
“They put in enormous effort and deserve our support and leadership in helping them achieve their potential. Their progress and achievement is our reward.
“I served in Sussex Police for 30 years and I was convinced the award would help many young people lead a more positive life. That made me more determined to focus on DofE when I retired.”
Terry was surprised with his award on March 20 at St James’s Palace. Stephen Hillier, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Terry gives a massive amount of his spare time to the young people of West Sussex through volunteering.
“We are so grateful for his efforts as he has helped hundreds of young people to reach their goals and push themselves to their limits.
“He volunteers through one of our Open DofE Centres which are the best way for young people to take part if they can’t access it through their school.”
Supported by West Sussex County Council, 65 centres are delivering DofE in West Sussex with individual DofE journeys often taking between 12 and 18 months of hard work and dedication.
To find out more about volunteering or taking part in West Sussex, email [email protected], visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/dofe or contact a school, college, youth group or one of the three Open Centres in the county.