The President of Malta

Diskors mill-Eċċellenza Tiegħu George Vella, President ta’ Malta, fl-okkażjoni tal-Premju Internazzjonali tad-Duka ta’ Edinburgh, Malta Foundation – Ċerimonja tal-Premju tad-Deheb

22 November 2023

Verdala Palace

Honourable Minister for Education, Clifton Grima

British High Commissioner, Your Excellency Katherine Ward,

Dr Lara Tonna Grima – Chair

Dear Awardees

Distinguished guests,

Good evening, and welcome to Verdala Palace.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome you in this Palace for this annual event.

A special welcome goes to the young people whom we have honoured this evening with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.

Apart from recognising the credentials and talents of our awardees, today’s event is a good occasion to reflect on the values which continue to nurture the spirit of this Award, and above all else, what keeps it relevant to our communities.

The road has been quite a long one, and yet both spirit and goals of the Award have survived to this very day.

The original aim of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards way back in 1956 was to promote personal development, resilience, and community engagement among young individuals.

Along the decades, it served as a catalyst that motivated participants to transcend their comfort zones, acquire new skills, and make a tangible positive impact on their communities.

The Awards have gone a long way in fostering a culture of self-improvement, leadership, and societal responsibility.

These are qualities that I wish us all, as a global society, to associate more closely to our youth.

Sometimes we regrettably fall in the mainstream temptation of branding our youth as irresponsible, foolhardy, too IT-dependent, and at times also anti-social.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards provide us with ample examples of how much this assessment could be and is misleading. It is a misconception.

Through the Gold Awards, we are celebrating dedication, perseverance, volunteering, physical activities, continuous skills development, and teamwork.

This array of values makes our youth feel more accomplished, and eventually sow the right seeds for well-grounded, altruistic, and conscientious adults.

From a wider angle, the Awards also serve as a stimulus for participants to immerse themselves in initiatives that profoundly benefit society and the environment.

This vision encompasses active, hands-on involvement in environmental conservation projects, social inclusion endeavours, and a spectrum of community service activities.

By encouraging participants to engage in community service and environmental stewardship activities, these projects embody a holistic approach to fostering an environmentally aware, up-and-coming generation.

Looking more closely at the local scene, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme in Malta is successfully addressing emerging challenges related to retaining youth engagement, navigating the shift towards digital interactions, managing limited resources due to its non-profit nature, and promoting inclusivity and diversity.

For the years to come, I am confident that focus will be retained on the continuous innovation of the programme, to keep it engaging and to keep it relevant for the youth.

One way of doing this is by finding a balance between the strategic integration of digital platforms to cater to the digital inclination of our youth and the facilitation of a return to traditional face-to-face, interactive activities.

I note with satisfaction that effective resource management, engagement with key stakeholders, and staying updated with evolving policies are currently underway to ensure the Duke of Edinburgh’s positive impact on young individuals in Malta continues unabated.

One word addressed to our Awardees.

I congratulate you on serving as a source of inspiration to your friends and families and commend you on striving to reach the goals you set yourselves to achieve. 

I urge you to continue along this path, so that these future challenges are duly met, both through your contributions as well as through your long-lasting examples.

We are all very proud of you and encourage you all to keep it up.

Finally, on this special occasion, I feel it is very pertinent to acknowledge the extraordinary vision that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had, when he set up the awards that bear his name. 

His Royal Highness The Duke himself was very active in education, the environment, sport and the well-being of young people. Through these Awards, he managed to provide a platform for young people to grow into resilient and confident adults.

We are also duty-bound to give due recognition to the numerous mentors who accompany these young people to achieve the successful completion of the Awards.

You must all feel very satisfied this evening.

I wish to conclude by expressing my sincere thanks to the local officials behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards for the assistance and support they have provided to the Office of the President in several youth-related initiatives all through my tenure.

Your contributions have always been very valid and useful.

I once again congratulate our awardees and thank you all for listening.

Thank you, very much.

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