Barbara Simpson-Schudel

I was a BRAT ie the child of a Member of the British Forces. As such, I changed schools, and even countries, throughout my childhood. I started the D of E Award at one BFES school in Germany (1961) and finished it in another (1964) : I received the Gold Award brooch when at University in the UK (1965), I attended a D of E Award reception at Buckingham Palace in July 1966, where I was given the Certificate ....
From 1969 onwards I have lived in France where I raised a family and worked as a teacher until I retired in 2008 ...
I had no opportunity to boast about the Award - no internet or social media to share with others. All I had was a badge in a box, notebooks describing expeditions, vague memories.
Today, with the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing, I hold my head up high and share : I am one of a community.
The D of E Award meant undertaking, persevering, overcoming - it was ‘character building’. I may not have benefitted from sharing, but I did from caring : the things I did for the D of E Award became ‘part of me’ : the person I was is still the person I am, which is how the Duke of Edinburgh felt, too.
He had left his Past behind : his family, his culture, his language and his beliefs, to start anew. He adopted a different environment - different challenges - different people, too.
He shed one skin for another - and thrived.
As I have, too.
Years later, I saw ‘relics’ from those early days when The future was still a choice : a letter I had written, a newspaper cutting, a few photos and now, even a few old friends. Despite the changes, I am still the person I was, then. My smile has not left me - as Prince Phillip’s smile never left him. It does not mean that we have not suffered, but that we know what suffering is : it has its place in our makeup. But we have moved on, as we had to : we have not simply ‘survived’, but we have acquired a peace of mind and happiness, by being true to ourselves throughout.
Thank you, Philip, for your example.