Farmer’s sheep gives birth to eight lambs in UK record

Stunned Andrew Morgan described the ultra-rare birth in the Borders as ‘one in 100 million’.

Ewe wouldn't believe it: Sheep gives birth to eight lambs. SWNS via SWNS
Ewe wouldn't believe it: Sheep gives birth to eight lambs.

A farmer told of his shock after a sheep gave birth to eight lambs – in what is believed to be a UK record.

Andrew Morgan, 69, was stunned when he found out one of his ewes had delivered eight lambs – after a scan just two months earlier revealed she was only having four.

Dad-of-two Andrew has been lambing for 50 years and described the ultra-rare birth as “one in 100 million”.

He said he didn’t believe his son in law Philip Hewit, 57, when he called and told him about the amazing delivery at Sunnyside Farm, near Reston, in the Borders.

Andrew, who has around 1000 ewes on the farm, said: “No one knew she was going to have eight, she had only been scanned for four.

“My son in law delivered them and when he called to tell me I didn’t believe him, I said no sheep has eight lambs.

“It was a complete shock.

SWNS via SWNS
The eight lambs shortly after birth at Sunnyside Farm.

“I think it’s a UK record, I have never seen anything like it before in 50 years of lambing and I think it’s once in a lifetime, for me anyway.

“I have seen ewes have maybe six lambs but not eight, it’s very unusual.

“People talk about one in a million, but I think this is more like one in 100 million.

“The ewe was fine after the birth but very tired after carrying eight lambs for around 145 days.”

‘I think it’s a UK record, I have never seen anything like it before in 50 years of lambing and I think it’s once in a lifetime, for me anyway.’

Andrew Morgan

Sadly, two of the lambs have died since the birth on March 18, after mum, a five-year-old Suffolk cross, lay on top of one, while another was too small to survive.

Grandad-of-three Andrew said they are caring for four of the tiny sheep, feeding them powdered milk by hand, while mum looks after the other two.

He added: “We left three with her to start with but unfortunately she lay on one and it died.

“The others we took to bottle feed with powdered milk but the smallest one didn’t make it, which left us with six.

“They were a lot smaller than a lamb would usually be.

“The two female ones will be used for breeding, and the four males will eventually be sold.

“We don’t do anything special with the sheep, we didn’t use hormones or anything on her to try and produce eight lambs.

“We only really want a ewe to have two as that’s the most they can feed at once.”

In 2015 a sheep at a farm in Devon was said to have the broken the British record after a ewe gave birth to seven lambs.


Charles: Philip would be ‘deeply touched’ by public support

Prince of Wales says reaction to his father's death will sustain royal family 'at this particularly sad time'.

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Prince Charles talking to his father, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The royal family are being helped through this “particularly sad time” by the public outpouring of support following the death of the “much-loved” Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales has said.

Charles spoke movingly of his “dear Papa”, who he said had devoted himself to the Queen, his family and the country for some 70 years.

The UK is officially in a period of national mourning for the next week, up to and including Philip’s funeral on Saturday afternoon.

A remembrance service will be held at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.

Next Saturday’s royal service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, will be like no other, with the Queen and her family wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell amid coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking from his Gloucestershire home of Highgrove, Charles said his father had “given the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth”.

He added: “As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously,” and said Philip would be “deeply touched” by the people around the world sharing “our loss and our sorrow”.

Charles said: “My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that.

“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”

While Charles spoke for the family on Saturday, his siblings visited the Queen – with the Duke of York and Princess Royal spotted at Windsor.

The Earl and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour with the Queen at the castle, with a tearful Sophie telling reporters as she left: “The Queen has been amazing.”

Philip’s wishes are the driving force behind the funeral plans, and on the day his coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by Charles and senior royals on foot.

The coffin will be covered by the duke’s personal standard together with his naval cap and sword and a wreath of flowers.

Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her doctor not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

Mourners coming from outside England are required to self-isolate for the first full 10 days after they arrive, but are allowed to leave on compassionate grounds to attend a funeral of a close family member.

The Duke of Sussex, who will have travelled from the US, could also be released from quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five under the Test to Release scheme.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given up his seat at the funeral to allow a family member to attend, No. 10 said.

While all public elements of the funeral – to take place entirely in the grounds of the castle – have been cancelled, it will be televised.

As the funeral procession makes its way through the grounds of the castle, Charles will be joined by senior royals – but not the Queen – walking behind the coffin and followed by Philip’s household, the most senior figure his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell.

The route of the procession will be lined by representatives from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF and the Service chiefs will walk ahead of the coffin, with the cortege led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, are expected to officiate at the service.

Mr Welby, giving a reflection from the chapel at Lambeth Palace on Saturday evening, said Philip had been someone with a “deep and genuine sense of service and humility”.

He said: “It wasn’t ‘me, me, me’. It was about the world, about those he served, and in doing that his own role was more and more significant.

“He had a righteous impatience. He would not accept the status quo. If things were not right, he would say so and say so quickly, and clearly, and often bluntly.

“Prince Philip, also though, had a deep and genuine sense of service and humility.”

He described him as someone who “knew the talents he had and what he could bring, and he brought them 100%, at full throttle, right through his life”.

The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday.

On Saturday, gun salutes were fired across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea in tribute.

A Palace spokesman said the royal family hoped the coming days would be seen as a chance to celebrate the duke’s “remarkable life”.

He added that despite the “significant adaptations” due to the pandemic restrictions, the occasion “will be no less fitting a farewell to His Royal Highness”.

The royal family has appealed to people who wish to pay their respects in person to stay at home instead.

A royal marriage: The love story of Philip and Elizabeth

Married for more than 70 years, the Queen and Philip enjoyed a happy life together.

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Love story: The Queen and Prince Philip were married for more than 70 years.

Theirs was a marriage of partnership, respect and devotion to one another.

For more than 70 years, the Queen and Prince Philip lived a life which encompassed love and duty, serving the country and for Philip himself, his own wife. 

For Prince Philip it could be no other way; his bride to be was destined to be Queen and in marrying her, would support her as a husband and as her consort.

They met when the young princess was just a teenager and he still held his title as the Prince of Greece and Denmark.

At just 13 years of age, it is said she vowed never to settle for another man. 

Yet with no financial standing, no kingdom and sisters who had married Nazis, he was a controversial choice for a young princess.

But she loved him. For her that was simply enough.

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Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten following their engagement in 1947.

Philip proposed to Elizabeth at Balmoral in 1946, a place which would mean a great deal to them as they grew their family in later years.

The young princess accepted without first consulting the King and Queen.

King George VI agreed to their marriage but insisted that a formal engagement was delayed until his eldest daughter turned 21 the following spring. 

In letters written soon after their wedding in 1947, Elizabeth’s devotion to Philip shone through the pages.

“Philip is an angel,” she told her parents. “We behave as though we had belonged to each other for years.”

In return he enthused: “She is the only thing in the world which is absolutely real to me.”

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Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day in 1947.

A formal proposal in July 1947 followed, with Philip proposing to Elizabeth with a diamond ring consisting of a centre stone flanked by ten smaller pave diamonds.

It was a nod to Philip’s past as they prepared for their future – his mother had gifted the prince a tiara she was given on her own wedding day so that her son could have it dismantled and created into a new piece for his future wife. 

Designing the ring himself, he would also have a bracelet made with other stones from the tiara, given to the princess as a wedding gift. 

While elegant diamonds marked their engagement, their wedding was by comparison a little more austere, as far as one could imagine for a future queen. 

She collected ration tokens to purchase the material for her wedding gown, a duchess satin dress covered with motifs of star lilies and orange blossoms. 

Before their wedding, Philip relinquished his titles and converted to Anglicanism, taking the name Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, the surname of his mother’s British family. 

He was made a royal highness by King George and on the morning of the wedding, became the Duke of Edinburgh.

It was a sacrifice for Philip but one he duly made for for his wife, who would one day become his queen. 

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Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoying a walk during their honeymoon.

The couple honeymooned at Balmoral before beginning married life in a country house near Windsor Castle, later taking up residence at Clarence House in London. 

Soon their family began to grow, with Prince Charles arriving in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950.

They had precious few years together as ‘simply’ Princess and Duke, pet corgis became part of the family and they travelled to Balmoral as much as they could, enjoying picnics on the grounds.

“Balmoral is a place one looks forward to very much as the summer goes on,” reflected the Queen in the 1990s.

“I think it has an atmosphere of its own. You just hibernate; but it’s rather nice to hibernate for a bit when one lives such a very movable life.”

Their lives changed forever upon King George VI’s death in 1952. They had been carrying out a royal tour in Kenya and when news reached of his death, Philip was the one to tell his wife. 

It is often said that she ascended the steps of the treetop hotel in which they were staying a Princess, and descended as Queen. 

So began the biggest step in Prince Philip and the now-Queen Elizabeth’s marriage. He would be her consort, her supporter while she became head of state and defender of the faith. 

The change did not come without its challenges. It was decided the House of Windsor would remain and Philip privately complained “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children”.

In later years, Philip and Elizabeth’s male-line descendants who did not carry royal titles would become Mountbatten-Windsor’s.

At Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, Prince Philip knelt before her and swore to be her “liege man of life and limb”.

The now-Queen made sure of it, announcing the Duke to have “place, pre-eminence and precedence” next to her “on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament“. 

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

In 1957, she restored a title onto him which he held when they first met – making him a Prince, although a British one at that. 

Soon Princes Andrew and Edward arrived into the family and so began decades of royal tours, balls, and state visits, with the couple side by side. 

As their children grew, married and had children of their own, the Queen and Prince Philip relished their roles as grandparents – with Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, children of Prince Andrew often fondly referring to the Queen as “granny”.

Yet there would be troubled times ahead – Prince Philip was said to have ‘pressured’ his son Charles into proposing to Lady Diana Spencer in a letter as he continued to live life as a bachelor. 

Then as fast as the fairytale weddings happened, they began to crumble. 

In 1992, dubbed by the Queen as her ‘annus horribilis’, three of her children’s marriages broke down and a huge fire engulfed Windsor Castle. 

It was a turning point for the royal family.

Following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, the royal family was criticised for their seclusion, with the Queen and Prince Philip opting to shield their young grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry from the press at Balmoral. 

Failing to fly a flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace caused controversy and pressured by the hostile reaction of the press, the Queen made a live television broadcast the day before the funeral, expressing admiration for Diana and her feelings as a grandmother for the two princes.

The couple would round a difficult year with their golden wedding anniversary, holding a reception at Banqueting House to mark the occasion. 

It was then she famously referred to her husband as “my strength and stay”.

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Queen Elizabeth II famously referred to Prince Philip as “my strength and stay”.

As the years passed, occasions such as Prince William’s marriage to Catherine Middleton and the subsequent birth of their three children George, Charlotte and Louis brought great joy to the couple. 

Prince Harry wed former actress Meghan Markle in 2018, later announcing they were expecting their first child the following spring. Their union was widely seen as steps towards a more modern monarchy. 

However the couple soon decided to step away from their roles as senior members of the royal family and moved to the US, with Prince Harry stating in interviews that he remained close with his grandmother and grandfather despite tensions with other family members. 

Now great-grandparents to ten children and the Duchess of Sussex pregnant with her second child, Philip and Elizabeth began to wind down their duties, with Philip formerly stepping away from public duties in 2017. 

Their children and grandchildren would take more of an active role as senior royals as the couple enjoyed their nineties.

On February 6, 2017, Elizabeth became the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee, and months later on November 20, she was the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.

The church bells of Westminster Abbey rang for three hours in celebration and the couple enjoyed a private dinner at Windsor Castle.

After 73 years of marriage, they remained as committed as the day they met. Quaintly, they were said to still take afternoon tea together every day.

In that famous golden wedding speech in 1997, Elizabeth said: “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.

“I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”

He remained at her side for more than 70 years until his death in 2021. It was the longest marriage of any UK monarch.

Edinburgh Castle gun salute marks Prince Philip’s death

Saluting batteries fired 41 rounds in cities across the UK following the Duke of Edinburgh's death at the age of 99.

WPA POOL/POOL via Getty Images

Gun salutes have been fired at Edinburgh Castle to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99.

Saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities across the UK including London, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.

Ships taking part included HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment joined the salute from the British overseas territory, the Ministry of Defence said.

Buckingham Palace said Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The public were encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which are fired to mark significant national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.

Edward and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour at the castle and Sophie told reporters “the Queen has been amazing” as they left Windsor in a Land Rover.

Two of his sons, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, arrived at Windsor Castle on Saturday morning, while the Prince of Wales visited his mother there on Friday.

Details of the duke’s funeral, due to take place at St George’s Chapel, are also expected to be released this weekend – but the ongoing lockdown in England will affect plans.

Philip, famously described by the Queen as her “constant strength and guide”, was known to have wanted a minimum of fuss at his funeral.

Buckingham Palace said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of current Government advice and social distancing guidelines, modified funeral and ceremonial arrangements for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh are being considered by Her Majesty The Queen. Details will be confirmed in due course.”

Speaking on a BBC tribute on Friday evening, all four of Philip’s children remembered him as someone who had encouraged and supported them.

Charles described his father’s life as an “astonishing achievement” while Edward said his father had a “challenging role” but carried it out with the most “extraordinary flare”, and had never tried to overshadow the Queen.

The Princess Royal said she would best remember her father as “always being there”, someone to help with a problem or bounce ideas off, and the Duke of York recalled Philip reading to the family in the evenings.

An online book of condolence was opened on the royal family’s official website for the public to post personal tributes, while a steady stream of mourners left flowers outside both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle on Friday.

The Palace asked members of the public not to gather in crowds, saying: “Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences.”

The monarch may give a televised address in memory of her husband of more than 70 years – the longest-serving consort in British history – but details of any possible broadcast have yet to be confirmed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Philip would be remembered for his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, that had “shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people”, as well as his “steadfast support” for the Queen.

US President Joe Biden highlighted the duke’s “decades of devoted public service”, Second World War service and environmental efforts in remembering his legacy.

During coronavirus lockdowns, Philip stayed at Windsor Castle with the Queen for their safety, alongside a reduced household of staff dubbed HMS Bubble.

The couple are thought to have spent more time together during the past 12 months, shielding from the virus, then they would in a normal year – a throwback to the early years of their marriage.

Philip had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16 to be reunited with the Queen after spending a month in hospital – his longest ever stay.

He initially received care for an infection but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.

Union flags were flown at half mast at all royal residences as a mark of respect and Westminster Abbey – where the Queen and Philip married in 1947 – tolled its tenor bell once every 60 seconds, 99 times, during Friday evening.

A period of mourning is expected and any planned official royal events that fall within this period are likely to be postponed.

The Cabinet met at 5pm on Friday to pay tribute to the duke, and Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess on Monday, a day earlier than its scheduled return.

Army regiment plays key role in Prince Philip gun salute

Reservists from 105 Regiment Royal Artillery at heart of tribute marking Duke of Edinburgh's life in the capital on Saturday.

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Military reservists involved in Saturday’s gun salute marking the Duke of Edinburgh’s life have spoken of their pride at being involved in the historic event.

Saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities across the UK including London, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.

Jenny Findlay, a bombardier with 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “It’s a big moment, it’s a sad moment, (I’m) feeling for the Royal Family, it’s a member of their family that they have lost but, yeah, proud to be a part of the moment.”

“A lot of drill goes into it, a lot of practice and preparation – I know that a lot goes on behind the scenes that we as reservists don’t always see as well; a lot of kit fittings, checks, they get done really regularly and just constant keeping on top of things.”

Jenny, who is also a mobile services manager with NHS WestMARC, added: “It’s been a busy wee while; the patients are still needing service and keeping going.”

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The public were encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which are fired to mark significant national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.

Mike Frew, senior permanent staff instructor at 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, was also involved in Saturday’s tribute in Edinburgh.

He said: “I was the troop sargeant major, making sure rehearsals were going fine and marching the troops on and off of the salute itself, and also the timekeepers – I was telling them when to fire.

“It’s an absolute honour to take part in a ceremony like this, it’s such a prestigious thing firing at the castle itself but that did have a bit of additional weight to it, just to make sure we gave the correct send-off that was required.”

Charles pays tribute to ‘dear Papa’ as funeral details announced

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Duke of Edinburgh: Funeral to take place on April 17.

The Prince of Wales has paid a moving tribute to his “dear Papa” – highlighting his “remarkable, devoted service to the Queen” – as details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral were released.

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.

The royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell.

Speaking from his Gloucestershire home of Highgrove on behalf of the royal family, Charles said: “I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth.”

He added: “As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously,” and said he would be “deeply touched” by the people around the world sharing “our loss and our sorrow”.

The prince said: “My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that.

“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”

The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a Palace official said.

The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.

Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.

Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.

All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled, it will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.

The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.

Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds including the long held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.

Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.

The public has been told not to attempt to attend any events in connection to funeral in newly issued Government guidance.

The Cabinet Office reiterated a plea for flowers not to be left at royal residences and advised businesses they may wish to make arrangements to observe the national minute’s silence at 3pm that day.

Firms were not expected to close, and organisers of sporting events were told it is their decision whether fixtures should continue as planned.

The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: Prince Philip’s greatest legacy

The DofE became one of the best known self-development and adventure schemes for young people.

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Prince Philip attends the reception for The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is likely to be judged Prince Philip’s greatest legacy.

Aimed at both able-bodied and disabled youngsters, it became one of the best known self-development and adventure schemes for 14 to 24-year-olds.

The duke was inspired to start the programme by his headmaster, Dr Kurt Hahn, and his much-loved school days at Gordonstoun in Moray.

He was closely involved in the organisation throughout and defended it against accusations that it was an award only for the middle classes.

2016 saw the scheme celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Despite his part in its success, Philip was always modest about his role.

He once maintained that he “couldn’t care less” whether the scheme was seen as an important part of his legacy.

“Legacy? … It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s there for people to use. I couldn’t care less,” he barked.

He added: “It’s relevant too because it’s part of the process of growing up.”

Influential Gordonstoun head Dr Hahn had believed modern life was facing a decline in enterprise and compassion and encouraged boys to embrace physical and moral challenges.

His Salem school in Germany, which Philip briefly attended, was set up to produce self-reliant young people dedicated to serving the community.

But in 1933 Adolf Hitler intervened and Dr Hahn was arrested for resisting Nazi ideas.

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The award ward is likely to be judged Prince Philip’s greatest legacy.

He was later released and came to Britain and founded the UK version of Salem – Gordonstoun.

Dr Hahn began a scheme there called the Moray Badge which was aimed at giving post-war youngsters in Britain a sense of achievement.

Twenty years later, after Philip had married Princess Elizabeth and she had become Queen, it was the duke’s turn to take the concept further.

Dr Hahn reportedly instructed him: “My boy, I want you to set up an award scheme like the one we had at Gordonstoun.”

For Philip, the process was not as straightforward as that.

A number of politicians were wary about the proposed title for the scheme – the Royal Badge.

Others had concerns about a prince with German family connections being involved in the development of youngsters in post-war Britain and some feared that what he was trying to set up would have some echoes of the Hitler Youth.

But the idea moved forward despite the reservations.

An activity-based County Badge Scheme was created, then a committee was set up which included four-minute mile athlete Roger Bannister.

Finally, in 1956, the project was launched with the Duke as patron.

Initially, it was aimed at offering young men activities to complete between leaving education and starting National Service.

In 1958, a girls’ scheme began.

Philip recalled how he thought he was being “progressive” by starting up the girls’ organisation separately, but years later was told by the Equal Opportunities Commission that they had to do the same as the boys.

He said it was hard persuading the girls to part with their scheme. “They had become rather attached to it by then,” he remarked.

Each award had four areas: Rescue & Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits & Projects, and Fitness.

Later the sections were updated to their current form: Volunteering, Skills, Physical and Expedition.

There are three levels of award: Bronze, Silver and Gold, each with an increasing degree of commitment. The activities must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday.

The millions of people that have taken part over the last 50 years include polar adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, presenter Zoe Ball and Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes.

Now since 1956, more than six million have joined the scheme in the UK with over three million achieving awards.

Millions of others have taken part across the globe, with more than 140 countries and territories running DofE programmes.

The Earl of Wessex, who is expected to take on his father’s responsibilities with the scheme, is already a trustee and heavily involved in the organisation.

In October 2013, the duke celebrated the 500th Gold Award presentation ceremony.

He joked with one group who told him of the hardships of their expedition: “You were meant to suffer, it’s good for the soul.”

Scottish Cup ties at risk after Duke’s funeral date confirmed

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
The Scottish FA has begun discussions over the fourth round ties.

The Scottish FA has said that it has begun dialogue over next week’s Scottish Cup ties after Buckingham Palace announced details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

The funeral is to take place on Saturday, April 17 at 3pm.

The fourth round of the Scottish Cup is scheduled to take place next weekend, with one lunchtime game, four 3pm matches and Celtic and Rangers due to kick off at 4pm.

Those games are now open to a change of date and time.

A Scottish FA statement read: “In light of confirmation that the funeral of HRH Prince Philip will take place next Saturday at 3pm, we have entered dialogue with the relevant stakeholders with regard to Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures scheduled on that day. 

“We will update participating clubs, supporters and partners in due course.”


Final farewell to Duke of Edinburgh set for April 17

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17.

STV News
Philip: Funeral to take place next Saturday.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s final farewell will be a royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to pay tribute.

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.

The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a senior Palace official said.

The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.

Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.

Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.

All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled, it will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.

The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.

Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds including the long held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.

Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.

Boris Johnson will not attend the service to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible during coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister was understood to have been expected to attend the ceremony for Philip by the royals, but offered to step aside with the number of guests allowed limited to 30.

It will be unlike typical royal send-offs, with the public being told to stay away because of the pandemic.

A No 10 spokesman said: “As a result of the Coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday”.

The public has been told not to attempt to attend any events in connection to funeral in Government guidance.

The Cabinet Office reiterated a plea for flowers not to be left at royal residences and advised businesses they may wish to make arrangements to observe the national minute’s silence at 3pm that day.

Firms were not expected to close, and organisers of sporting events were told it is their decision whether fixtures should continue as planned.

The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The Earl and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour with the Queen at the castle on Saturday, with a tearful Sophie telling reporters as she left: “The Queen has been amazing.”

The Duke of York also arrived at Windsor on Saturday, while the Prince of Wales visited his mother there on Friday.

Gun salutes have been fired across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea in tribute to the duke.

‘Let me travel abroad for life-changing treatment’

Emma Pratt says current coronavirus restrictions are stopping her from accessing stem cell treatment abroad.

STV News

Emma Pratt was a fit and healthy 25-year-old, when she suddenly lost her sight. 

Doctors quickly diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, a lifelong condition that affects the brain and nerves. 

Emma’s sight returned but she has been left with permanent disabilities that affect her everyday life.

Despite worsening symptoms, she doesn’t meet the criteria to receive stem cell treatment in Scotland, even though it could slow the progression of her condition. 

Instead, Emma is looking to have treatment abroad but is prevented from travelling due to the pandemic.

“The flights are booked because, regardless of the rules, I know I have to do this now,” she says. “So we will figure it out, but it’s the unknown which makes it very scary. 

“Because of Covid, I haven’t been able to do bric-a-brac sales and ask people to run marathons for me [to raise money]. Literally asking for people’s help has been the only thing we’ve been able to do.”

It has now been ten years since her diagnosis, but Emma has found it impossible to come to terms with.

“I don’t think it ever really sets in,” she says. “I live every day as it comes because I don’t know how my symptoms are going to be.

“Even the simple things like pushing [my son Rory] on a swing and taking him for a walk and running races in the garden and hours of hide and seek… 

“Those are the things that a three-year-old wants to do with mummy, and it’s hard to not be able to do those things.”

STV News
David Balmer is currently unable to access MND treatment in Mexico.

Fundraising is something 41-year-old David Balmer is also finding difficult.

The father-of-two was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019 and now struggles to speak, so his sister Lynsay helps to communicate his thoughts.

“There was one drug offered that gives you, well so they say, an extra three months on top of your diagnosis,” she says. He said ‘no way’, we weren’t accepting that.”

Despite many obstacles, David made it to Mexico last October for experimental stem cell treatment.

“It was totally beneficial, it was worth it,” says Lynsay. “And he’s now needing to go back for follow-up treatment, but it’s causing more difficulties and more problems again. 

“Time is something that we don’t really have, you need to do things quickly.”

Raising funds for the treatment has also been made difficult for David, but he’s not giving up hope.

Lynsay says: “He’s saying without his family and the people behind him that he wouldn’t be here, but he’s very strong.”

There are exemptions to the current travel and quarantine restrictions, but David and Emma don’t meet the criteria. They feel this needs to change.

The Scottish Government said: “We understand the difficulties faced with those who are dealing with health issues, but to manage the risk of importing new variants and to give vaccine deployment the best chance of bringing us closer to normality these limits on international travel are necessary.

“There is a provision that an exemption can be granted to a person whom Scottish ministers consider requires exceptional arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds. 

“It would be preferable for all concerned if any such exemption were applied for and confirmed or denied in advance of travel, to remove uncertainty.”

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