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Encouragement Medal.  (De Aanmoedigingsmedaille)

Young walkers at the Vierdaagse

From the late 1920's an increasing number of young people participated in the Vierdaagse, walking the minimum daily distance of 30 km.  For most, this was as a part of a registered group of scouts or other youth organisation, including the NBVLO-affiliated Dutch Youth Association (Bond van den Hollandschen Jongen). Youngsters who completed the March received a certificate, but did not qualify for the Vierdaagse Cross.

In response to criticisms that the certificate was insufficient recognition for young walkers, in 1930 the NBVLO instituted a special youth ‘Encouragement Medal’ for 14 and 15 year olds who completed their regulation daily distance of 30 km.  Those aged 16 and above received the Vierdaagse Cross for completing their regulation distance of 40km each day.

Since 1961 successful walkers of all ages have qualified for the Vierdaagse Cross, provided they complete the minimum regulation distance laid down for their age group.  Recipients of the Encouragement Medal could not exchange their medal for a Vierdaagse Cross.  However, if they successfully completed the march again, the years when they had received only the medal counted when determining what level of cross they would receive.

Youth Medal 1930 (O).jpg
IG-Youth Medal 1930 (R).jpg

Earlier type, from 1930.  This medal has a diameter of 25 mm and was presented with a 19 mm wide ribbon.  It was of gilded bronze and made by Koninklijke Begeer.  A second award was marked by a figure '2' on the ribbon (of similar size and design to numerals seen on miniature medals of the period).  The reverse was either had a wreath around the edge, (as in this picture), or was completely plain.

Young people who completed the march a second time before they were 16 received a '2' to be worn on the ribbon.

Youth medal 1959 (O1).jpg
Youth medal 1959 (R1).jpg

1959 to 1960.  While the size is the same as the 1930 medal, the design was changed to show the head of Queen Juliana on the obverse. The reverse has the inscription 'Koninklijke Ned. Bond Voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding' (Royal Dutch League for Physical Education) around the edge and '30km' in the centre.

Young people who received the medal in 1959 received a '2' for the ribbon if they qualified again in 1960.

With thanks to Richard Courtney for supplying the photos

Young recipients of the Vierdaagse Cross

In 1961, when all walkers could participate and receive the Vierdaagse Cross irrespective of age, the minimum age was 14. This age was lowered to 13 in 1971 and to 12 in 1978.

Although the minimum age for Vierdaagse participants is twelve, as age is determined by how old you will be at the end of the year, many successful walkers have still been eleven during the march week.  This includes several eleven year olds born on 31 December – born a day later and they would be too young!  They all have been Dutch, except for Fleur Willemsen from Weeze, near Kleve in Germany who completed in 2008.

Youth padvinders 1932 (1).jpg
Youth padvinders 1932 (2).jpg

Scouts (Padvinders) during the 1932 Vierdaagse. {Pratt en Plaat]

Youth marchers.jpg

Young marchers (probably in the late l930's) wearing both the Vierdaagse Cross and the Encouragement Medal, that they would have received in an earlier year.


Willy Heij from Wijchen, who in 2022 completed the march for the 62nd time.He is one of the few recipients of the Encouragement Medal who still participate in the Vierdaagse. []

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