I was doubly lucky regarding Wellington bursaries – being both a Foundationer whilst at school and then receiving a bursary when doing a postgraduate degree after I had left.
When my Father died whist I was at school, his Army past qualified me as a Foundationer. Without the funds associated with this status I would have had to have left the school after O Levels. The Foundation funds saw me through the sixth form. As the classic “late developer”, sixth form was when I actually got to enjoy and contribute to Wellington life. Academically, I improved so much so I managed to qualify for seventh term Oxbridge. Sporting wise I made the XV for an unbeaten season and we all know how important rugby is to Wellington life!!
Confidence gained from such sixth form development has stuck with me all my life.
After being an undergraduate at Durham, I went to Oxford to do a PGCE and played rugby there for the Blues. After an initial year I was asked to stay for a second postgraduate year – mostly for rugby reasons! Having no funding for this second year I was directed to Colonel Fladgate – please correct me if I have his name incorrect, as it was over 30 years ago! I was lucky to receive an OW bursary which did cover my academic charges, allowing me to stay that second year.
The Blues beat Cambridge that year and there were four OWs involved in the match. Myself, Tim Willis and John Risman for Oxford and Willie Stileman for Cambridge. I met with Colonel Fladgate along with Frank Fisher a few times whilst at Oxford to share my experiences, plus wrote a report at the end of my time there.
These two bursaries not only gave me a wonderful education but also built an attitude to help others.
I have been a Princes Trust mentor, raised funds for education charities and set up a number of intern courses at past companies, before I became self employed. I am now closely involved with a special needs school near where I live that my autistic son attends.