“The Duke of Edinburgh Award Changed My Life”

Prologue: Introduction of the Duke of Edinburgh Award to Trinidad and Tobago

Known as the President’s Award now in Trinidad and Tobago and the Duke of Edingburgh’s Award around the world, this program has impacted thousands of young lives globally, over decades. It is also known as ‘The Award’ to its stakeholders and participants.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was inaugurated by HRH the Prince Philip in the United Kingdom in 1956.

The Award was introduced to Trinidad and Tobago after Captains William Henry and Hugh Walke visited the United Kingdom in 1960. This visit occurred as a part of the celebrations of the the 100th Anniversary of Army Cadet Force of the UK and the 50th Anniversary of the TTCF.

These officers were privileged to attend a reception at which they met with the Duke of Edinburgh himself. He introduced them to the program, and encouraged them to implement it in Trinidad and Tobago.

Upon return to our twin island Republic, and with the blessings of the Commandant and the government, they eventually introduced the first cohort of cadets in 1965.It is instructive to note that these two officers rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and became Commanding Officers of the TTCF as follows:

  • Lt. Colonel William Henry served as Commandant from 1968-1971
  • Lt. Colonel Hugh Walke served as Commandant from 1977-1985

A young Harold Woodroffe was among that first batch. Then, he was an astute young man, and a proud cadet. As his story unfurls, he will share about his memories, and his current standing within the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force.

Editor’s notes:

  • I am grateful to Major Grantley Dick for his gracious assistance with the research for this article.
  • I am grateful to Major Harold Woodroffe, TTCF Chaplain’s cooperation, by writing the content below.

His Story:

I was 16 /17 years old when I participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I was seventeen when we received our Bronze Certification from the Duke of Edinburgh himself in February 1966. The programme had different modules that stretched out over a year.

[The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program] made a lifelong impression on me. I still remember some of the instructors that had a formative effect on me.

Deacon, Major Harold Woodroffe, TTCF Chaplain

Eugene Hilaire of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, who tutored us in First Aid; and
Regimental Sergeant Major Anthony Clemendor of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force, who helped us to meet and exceed the required standards of marksmanship, by practice and coaching at the Rifle Range at La Seiva in Maraval.

Some time ago when I relocated my dwelling from the Refinery quarters at Pointe a Pierre, I found a batch of my completed targets and again felt the pride of my accomplishment.

Both of these gentlemen have long passed away, but I am sure that they live in the hearts of our batch, and those who followed us. I cannot remember who was in charge of the Expedition part of our course, but I do remember the stress of it.

Since then, I have been able to press on through whatever challenges that present themselves, and sleep under conditions, regardless of how uncomfortable they are. The programme fostered a certain camraderie among the members, and we were excited when subsequently, other members of the TTCF continued the programme and completed the Gold Standard.

A few of us from our batch represented the TTCF in the International Cadet Force Exchange programme in Camp Ipperwash in Ontario, Canada in Summer of 1966, and if I say so myself, we did ourselves proud. Regimental Sergeant Major Anthony Clemendor was also a part of the Exchange Team.

I am now a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church and have been serving as one of the Chaplains of the TTCF since 2014.

The TTCF Chaplains

About the Chaplaincy of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force

The TTCF Chaplaincy is home to three Chaplains, namely Major, Archdeacon Edwin Primus; Major, Deacon Harold Woodroffe; and Evangelist, Major Rodney Brown. Each of our Chaplains serve in a full time capacity in their respective religions/communities of faith.

These Chaplains continue to serve the young people of the TTCF at engagements at our units, on camp, at our Annual Church Parade, and other occasions as may be required. Their service is also called upon in times of personal grief for our cadet and adult personnel.

It is worthy to note that the Chaplains are on call throughout the week, and remain at the ready to continue to serve the cadets and adults of the TTCF even after they leave the organisation.

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