The Duke of Edinburgh's Award - the voluntary programme for people aged 14 to 25 to learn new skills, help others and gain work experience - is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Attracting almost 600,000 participants from around the world at any one time, the number of entrants from ethnic minority backgrounds increased by 35 per cent last year, demonstrating the positive effect the programme has on participants from all walks of life. The Award has also recently been voted the leading attribute, aside from educational qualifications, that employers find attractive when recruiting new staff.

Ashok Rabheru, Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award said: "Young people who have participated have been able to develop a broad range of experiences and personal qualities such as teamwork, leadership and self confidence; vital attributes to have in today's highly competitive society."

Sumaiya Kola, 17, is a good example. Currently taking A-levels at Bartley Girls School in Huddersfield, Kola hopes to study medicine at university and become a doctor. She started her gold award last year and has since learned and taught sign language. She's also knitted blankets and clothes to send to India and teaches the elderly as an aerobics instructor. She says the social skills she gained make it easier to fit into society and take part in things that she would otherwise not have had the opportunity to do.

High-Flying Star

Luol Deng might not be a household name in the UK but the Chicago Bulls basketball player has just dribbled past David Beckham as Britain's highest-paid sportsman. He has signed a five-year contract worth £41.6m, which equates to £160,000 a week to Beckham's £100,000.

Deng was born in Sudan, but came to South London in 1993, when his father was granted political asylum. He took up basketball when he outgrew football (he is 6ft 9 inches tall) and was spotted by an American scout who took him to the States.

"I don't like to think what I'd be doing if I'd stayed in Sudan," Deng said. "I've been so fortunate to be given this opportunity when others are struggling to survive."

The Price Of Fame

Charlotte Church has warned teenagers against chasing fame. The Welsh singer said: "Unless you have a thick skin and nerves of steel, don't do it. Being a teenager is confusing enough without having to read opinions about you in the press"