He was speaking at a reception organised by Gaisce, the President’s Award, at Farmleigh House in Dublin, where he met 62 young people picked randomly from five parts of the country.
Gaisce is Ireland’s national challenge award. It was established by a trust deed under the patronage of the President of Ireland in 1985 and is part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Association that operates in 135 countries.
All of the young people at the reception, which was also attended by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, were either bronze, silver or gold award winners from Cork, Sligo, Derry, Enniskillen and Dublin and everyone met the duke.
Prince Philip said it was very nice to know that so many young people were involved in the President’s award and getting so much pleasure and encouragement from it.
Doing the groundwork to achieve the award might seem pretty awful at the time but, like all things, it was wonderful when you stopped, he said.
“So when you have got your gold award you can bask in it for the rest of your lives. It is very valuable,” he said.
More than 17,000 people in Ireland have participated in the awards scheme that works on the basis of a personal challenge set by an individual.
Chairman of Gaisce’s 15 member council and former governor of the Bank of Ireland, Dr Laurence Crowley, said Prince Philip’s untiring commitment to the award, as founder and as patron, was admirable.
Dr Crowley said President Mary McAleese, an outstanding patron for the past 14 years, had assisted greatly in the exponential rise in participants in Ireland.
One of two gifts made to the duke was a framed copy of Gaisce’s first day cover and stamp issued by An Post marking its 25th anniversary. It was presented by gold award winner Eoghan Beausang.
The second gift, a set of coins produced by the Central Bank of Ireland to commemorate Gaisce’s silver jubilee, was presented to the duke by bronze award winner Chiadika Uzor.
Gaisce’s director of development John T Murphy said Prince Philip first visited Ireland in November 1998 to launch a Gaisce event to celebrate the millennium. He made a second visit in April 2006 to help Gaisce celebrate its 21st anniversary.
Mr Murphy said the duke had not been expected to speak at the event.
“I believe he was so taken with the gifts he wanted to say thank you to the young people who were there and we were delighted that he did,” he said.