The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association Welcomes Martin Houghton-Brown as Secretary General

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association has announced the appointment of Martin Houghton-Brown as the new Secretary General. The decision by the International Trustees follows an extensive recruitment and selection process. He will take up his new role on 2 April 2024. 

Martin brings a wealth of leadership experience and knowledge in the charitable sector and working with young people in many different settings. We believe he brings the necessary skills, valuable insights and ambitious vision to guide the charity on its next chapter and future endeavours.  

Martin comes to the International Award from St John Ambulance where he has been Chief Executive since January 2018. He has a strong track record of giving people – especially young people – the chance to fulfil their potential through volunteering, education and training. He was responsible for leading the volunteer vaccination effort for England, introducing the national NHS Cadet programme and pioneering work with young people at risk of street violence. He has also overseen the rise of St John’s cadets taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from 30 participants a year in 2018 to over 700 in 2023. 

Prior to St John’s, Martin was Chief Executive of Depaul UK, which works with homeless young people sleeping rough on the streets, where he grew the charity’s work, especially its ground-breaking Nightstop service. While at the charity Missing People, he successfully campaigned for a new missing person’s law and launched the new national telephone number for missing people. He has also held roles at the Children’s Society and served as Chair of the Board of YMCA England & Wales. 

Martin undertook his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and was presented with his Gold Award by HRH The Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh.  

On accepting the appointment, Martin said:

“The first ever Gold Award at Buckingham Palace in 1958 had St John Ambulance cadets present. My own Gold Award at St James’s Palace, also presented by the Founder, the late Duke of Edinburgh, had cadets present and most recently representing St John witnessing the pride in the Gold recipients as HRH The Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh continues to build on that 1958 legacy. Around the world thousands of young people each year achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold.

I look forward to working with colleagues from the Award and partner organisations to advance the role of non-formal education and learning, the Award in particular and in celebrating the often-hidden capabilities of young people. In every role I have undertaken working on behalf of young people, I have been amazed at the skills, the endurance and the kindness of the younger generation, and I look forward to championing them in this very special role as Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association.”

The Chair of the International Award Foundation, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, said:

“This is an excellent outcome of a lengthy search and I know that I can speak on behalf of the whole Board when I say how delighted I am that Martin has accepted the position of Secretary General. His leadership style, evident passion and strong commitment to our charity’s mission and values makes me believe that we have found the right person to take The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award forward. We fully support and understand Martin’s commitment to see through the changes at St John’s, a delivery partner with the DofE UK, which is necessitating the long transition period, but we are working closely with them to make it as smooth as possible.”


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