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Heathrow welcome Prince Edward to launch Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge

Launch gets off to a flying start with Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye and around 100 of Heathrow's workforce abseiling down Terminal 5

HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, launched the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Diamond Challenge at Heathrow Airport.

To celebrate the launch, staff at Heathrow reached new heights as around 100 men and women working across the airport abseiled down the inside of Terminal 5 from departures to arrivals, on Tuesday February 23.

The plunge was led by Heathrow CEO John-Holland Kaye, to mark the charity's 60th anniversary of the gold, silver and bronze youth achievement award, founded by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: "It was an honour to host HRH The Earl of Wessex at Terminal 5 to launch our DofE Diamond Challenge activities.

"We are proud to support The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, because it helps young people to fulfil their potential.

"This year we are encouraging people of all ages from across the Heathrow community to do the same by taking part in a Diamond Challenge."

Heathrow Airport Limited
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye abseils down T5

More than 150 colleagues also signed up to take part in the FITBIT challenge to walk, run, cycle or row the equivalent distance of one of Heathrow's 180 worldwide destinations - over 400,000 miles - by the end of June, with representatives from British Military Fitness on hand to help them limber up for their challenge.

Prince Edward was also given his own FITBIT tracker and challenged to cover the distance to Manchester, where the next leg of his Royal Diamond tour will take him.

He also met with 20 young people from Heathrow who have completed the Gold DofE award scheme, which has been offered to airport employees under the age of 25 since 2012.

Naomi Leece, 25, of Feltham , who works as a security trainer at Terminal 5, and completed her Gold DofE award in October 2015, said: "On the qualifying expedition we faced many challenges and difficulties and one of my most vivid and bizarrely fondest memories is when I got stuck waist deep in a bog for 15 minutes and couldn't get out .

"My team whilst trying to help me out, and enjoying the situation a little too much managed to record this and now I have the memory to last a lifetime!

"I learnt one of my biggest lessons - you have to laugh or you will just cry!"

Security officer at Terminal 2, Zareen Zamir, 24 of Ealing , who has worked at Heathrow for two years and recently completed her gold award, added: "Before I started the DofE programme I lacked in confidence, the DofE journey has helped me improve myself."

Heathrow Airport Limited
Prince Edward meets airport workers at Heathrow involved in DofE and the Diamond Challenge!

In celebration of the Diamond anniversary year, airport workers will undertake some very daring activities to help raise money for the charity.

Staff can pledge their own challenges and help raise money which will be used to fund the DofE's diamond ambition to work with 2 million young people by 2020, including 400,000 from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is a one-off initiative for 2016 that aims to give everyone a flavour of the life-changing benefits of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Peter Westgarth, CEO of The DofE's Award added: "As we celebrate 60 years of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, it's great to have such fantastic support from Heathrow.

"The staff have really gotten behind the DofE Diamond Challenge, and we're looking forward to hearing about how far they've travelled on their FITBIT challenges."

Get involved at DofE Diamond Challenge and set yourself a challenge.

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