Thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, thanks to a grant of £25,000 from Hertfordshire Freemasons.
The new funding from Hertfordshire Freemasons will add to the £300,000 strategic partnership between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Overall, an estimated 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs will now be able to take part in the Award scheme as a result of the partnership, which will ensure that young people with diverse difficulties and disabilities will be able to build crucial skills and become more independent; it aims to offer students the same experiences available to their peers in mainstream education.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who founded the Awards in 1956, was himself a Freemason, having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his father-in-law King George VI.
Paul Gower, Head of Hertfordshire Freemasons, said: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support this world-renowned Awards scheme that has done so much to give young people invaluable experiences and help build self-confidence. Our new partnership means young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.
‘This donation is a tangible way for Freemasons in Hertfordshire to express our respect and gratitude for all that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh accomplished during his long life.’
Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF said: ‘Achieving a Duke of Edinburgh Award is a life-changing experience, particularly for those with physical or learning difficulties, who can find themselves excluded from outdoor activities due to a lack of accessible equipment or trained support staff.
‘I’m enormously grateful to Hertfordshire Freemasons for this generous donation which will help us to support a remarkable project founded by a remarkable man who was himself a Freemason.’