THE Duke Of Edinburgh awards scheme budget has been drastically cut in Kirklees.

The scheme has provided teenagers with life skills for years and the Kirklees division works with more young people with disabilities than anywhere else in the country.

But, the programme is now under threat after over a quarter of its budget was slashed by Kirklees Council to the tune of £40,000.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Manager Denise Bedford, MBE, said: “We run entirely on volunteers, with only two full-time members of staff.

“We had 1,500 young people wanting to do it this year, which is what we get every year, and we are down a huge chunk of our budget.

“D of E is somewhere young people can get involved with and try new things.

“People in wheelchairs have been able to try rock climbing or canoeing and we really try to break down the individual barriers that would normally stop some children from getting involved.

“There are children who often cannot get a place through college as schools don’t have the staff to support them.

“With the cuts we do face a huge challenge as there are so many young people who want to take part.”

“We can’t support as many groups as we would like to and we are really starting to have to think who do we have to say no to. Who’s not going to be included?

“At least £30,000 from this year’s budget has gone.

“If there’s anyone who would like to get involved as a volunteer we would absolutely love to hear from them.

“Similarly, if any local business would like to sponsor an activity or an expedition we would be so grateful.

“On one recent weekend we had 127 people out on expeditions.”

The organisation offers young people the chance to gain a new skill, be assessed on a sport, volunteer and also go out on an expeditions.

Denise continued: “D of E encourages children to come out of their bedrooms and stop playing on X-Boxes.

“It is a way of keeping them fit and healthy and allows young people to work together.

“The charity work that they do benefits the community and I know we have had lots of participants volunteer at organisations like Kirkwood Hospice.

“It helps to build a safer, stronger community.”

Olympic torchbearer Amy Peckover recently visited the centre on Fenay House Lane in Waterloo to show the torch to the group.

Ayeesha Javaid who suffers from Von Willebrand’s disease – a blood disorder which makes it difficult to stop bleeding when damage occurs – attended the meeting.

Her mum Rukhsana said that D of E has given Ayeesha a whole new lease of life and she loves going out on expeditions.

“D of E has given my daughter hope and confidence,’’ she said.

“Without the sessions children with disabilities would be stuck at home, doing nothing.

“The work these volunteers do is incredible. They give up all their time and they are fully trained in caring for young people with disabilities.

“It’s not just as easy as throwing on a backpack for these children.

“Seeing my daughter smile makes my world. When she leaves there she smiles.

“I am so grateful to the volunteers and for the service. It has truly changed my daughter’s life.

“The council should be doing all they can to give children hope.”

If you can help support D of E call Denise on 01484 222374 or email her at