It's never too late to.....

Try the Discovery Awards

So you're over 50, you've stopped work, you're getting bored and you think there's nothing more you want to discover!!

How wrong can you be?

Try talking to Laurie Young. His background was in teaching and he was involved during that time with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards which he felt was a wonderful scheme and opened doors for those who took part.

'Just don't call it the Duke of Edinburgh Awards for geriatrics.'

When he retired at 60 in 1987 he felt it would be a good idea for older people too, modelled on the Duke of Edinburgh awards. He wanted to call it the Discovery Awards.

The Duke gave permission - just as long as it wasn't called the Duke of Edinburgh Awards for Geriatrics. Along with Alan Gray, the Community Education Officer for Dundee and a pilot group of 10, over 18 months they put together a programme of activity and self-development and the Discovery Awards was born. All 10 qualified for the Bronze award, and in 1989 The Achievement Awards scheme was born. 

If you are 50+

It's for people in the 50+ age range and presents them with new goals and personal challenges encouraging them to discover new interests and hidden talents. It enables and encourages people to make new decisions about their own lives and to increase their contribution to life around them. And they meet new people, offering the possibility and bonus of new and lasting friendships.

The four projects

The Award consists of four projects?

  • Service in the Community
  • Hobby and Interests
  • Recreational Pursuits
  • Discovery Challenge.


The Discovery Awards

When the four projects are completed the participants qualify for a badge - circular to symbolise the learning process, which has no beginning or end.

It's now world wide.

Says Laurie 'It is important for people to have a hobby and undertake a journey of discovery. For some that will be family history for others it will be more physical.

‘I was delighted to see it grow in the Tayside region but I never imagined it would grow as much as it has. It is now all over the UK and also Australia, Malta, South Africa and Canada.

‘People come for all sorts of reasons such as after redundancy, retirement, bereavement- even the terminally ill who have had a longer life expectancy with a challenge ahead of them and a reason to get up in the morning. Some of the older people who take part have been told by their family that they are too old to do the Discovery Awards and they are then very surprised when their parent succeeds.


‘The age range is 50 to 90, and surprisingly only 20% are men with the other 80% women. We have even had the odd romance as people make new friends.'

Mary's experience.

One member of the Edinburgh group, Mary Hutchison described her experience in the group she belongs to.

‘There are about 20 in our group. For my Bronze award I organised the group and took the minutes as part of my service to the community; for a hobby I did desk top publishing; for the Discovery part of the award I went with friends island hopping on Tyree, Coll and Mull; and for my Gold Award a group of us went to stay in a youth hostel on Arran for a week – something I wouldn’t have done if it has not been for the awards. On one occasion 6 of us went cycling in Holland.

‘For his Gold Award my husband Robin built a model railway track around the garden. We hold an open day every year for St Columbus charity.

‘One of the problems can be that a member becomes so absorbed in their hobby that they no longer have time to attend. One lady started making quilts and is now so busy making them for people she is too busy to come along.

‘The Discovery Awards has given us lots of pleasure and made us do things we would not have done without the incentive and support of our fellow members. I would recommend it to others.'

Interested? You can discover more on the website www.discoveryawardsscotland.co.uk

Or you can call Laurie Young on 01382 641 800 for more information on groups in your area.

Return to try something new

If you enjoyed this page about the discovery awards you may enjoy Margaret's story

Follow your dreams - it's now or never