Luminaries from Edinburgh’s financial sector, education, politics and the military united last week for the launch in Scotland of The Prince William Award.
Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen plc, hosted the event at The New Club in the heart of the city from where guests enjoyed unbroken views of Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens.
The Prince William Award is delivered by national education charity SkillForce, of which HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge and Earl of Strathearn, is patron. It is the first award of its kind in his name. SkillForce instructors, predominantly former servicemen and women, work in primary and secondary schools to deliver the new character and resilience award to children aged six to 14.
Standard Life has supported SkillForce since 2013. Sir Gerry said the flagship award had the potential to make a real impact in Scotland due to the country’s long and proud military tradition.
“Often the iconic figures in our neighbourhoods are men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. If you ask a school boy and increasingly a school girl what their ambition is they will tell you it is to join the British Army. Children are inspired by people in their families who have proudly served their country. Undoubtedly they are role models.”
Sir Gerry, the lead non-executive board member for the Ministry of Defence, said it was a unique opportunity to give Scottish children access in school to high quality character education rooted in military values. At the same time The Prince William Award (PWA) provides veterans with meaningful and fulfilling employment when they leave the forces.
He praised Chief Executive, Ben Slade for his “inspirational leadership” of the charity since his appointment in 2015. The award is the brainchild of Ben, a former headteacher, who led its development with the support of HRH and his team.
Sir Iain McMillan CBE, former Director of the CBI Scotland and now Chairman of SkillForce, agreed Scotland was fertile ground for the PWA to take seed and to flourish.
“As a Scot born and bred and with my own grandchildren currently in school, I speak personally as well as in my capacity as chairman when I say what a tremendous service we would do the next generation if we could make this new award delivered by SkillForce part and parcel of school life in Scotland.”
Guests at the launch included Callum McCaig, special adviser to Nicola Sturgeon; Charlie Wallace, Deputy Commander of 51st Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland; and SkillForce instructors, formerly of the forces. Headteachers from across the city sat alongside senior members of staff from Standard Life Aberdeen plc, RBS, HSBC, Barclays, Brewin Dolphin and Hamilton & Inches.
They heard from Deputy Head, Rachel Robertson and pupils of Liberton High School in Gilmerton where The Prince William Award is being delivered. Pupils described the positive impact it was having on them and their classmates.
It is hoped that a significant number of primary and secondary schools in Scotland will embrace The Prince William Award, which was piloted across the UK last year and its impact independently verified.