Today’s crop of bursary students are multi-talented: from rugby-playing dancers to politics-loving basketball stars, is there anything they can’t do?
Mahdeia Hidary – Trinity School, Croydon
‘Without the bursary award, I would not have been able to attend Trinity and, in turn, get into Cambridge’
I am incredibly grateful for my time at Trinity – I loved every second. I had never experienced such dedicated teachers or the positive work ethic apparent in every lesson at Trinity. I had wanted to go there ever since a visit with my primary school. However, there were two main hurdles – first, as a girl I would have to wait until the Sixth Form, and second, the cost of attending an independent school. Without the bursary I was awarded, I could not have attended Trinity and, in turn, got into Cambridge. Attending Trinity taught me so much. Alongside my academic subjects, I could try as many extra-curricular activities as I wanted in a safe environment. I loved learning to sing and joining the professional-level choirs, planning star-gazing evenings for the lower school, and being able to try squash.
My main worry before joining was the other students. I was concerned about their different financial backgrounds and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to them. I hadn’t realised that many students in the Sixth Form came from state schools and we were all just young adults with similar interests.
Everyone was so supportive and my classmates are now some of my best friends. I never felt disadvantaged by being a bursary student – it simply didn’t matter. My teachers were more than willing to help and I quickly came to love Trinity. For me, Sixth Form there was the most enjoyable and rewarding part of my education.
Oskar Edwards – Wells Cathedral School, Wells
‘My hockey coaching has been excellent’
I joined Wells in Year 10 on a sports scholarship which was supported by a bursary. This meant my dream of coming to Wells became a reality. It also meant I could combine sport, music and academics altogether.
During Covid, Mr Mayes (Head of Hockey) nominated me for England Hockey U16s and with his excellent coaching, I went through and now play for the U18s. He has been extremely supportive during my time here and has gone that extra mile to help me achieve my goals. I also play the guitar in a school band so I’m usually very busy, along with studying for A-levels. I have been a prefect this year which has given me valuable leadership skills and I helped organise our pupil-led concert which raised money for the school’s charity in Sierra Leone. The opportunities have been endless and I don’t think I could have achieved this much without the school’s support.
The school has given me the determination and confidence to go out there and achieve what I want, aim high and be who I want to be, which is the school’s motto Esto Quod Es (Be What You Are) and the school really believes in that. Teachers are friendly, helpful and approachable, we feel like one big family.
I’m going to carry on playing hockey at Loughborough University while studying for an English degree and I will continue to play guitar, hopefully join a band as well.
I am so grateful for everything Wells has given me and I’m really going to miss it. The friends I have made will be with me for life. I couldn’t have done all this without the aid of my scholarship and bursary and I will be forever grateful.
Martin Mora – King Edward’s School, Bath
‘I’ve played piano at an elite level’
My time at King Edward’s School, Bath is one I will never forget. From the opportunities and support the school gave me in music, to the wide range of competitions and lectures our teachers encouraged us to undertake to fuel our curiosity for the subjects we were studying. Representing the school in two Holburne Museum music concerts where I played piano, allowed me to showcase my ability at an elite level, and gave me the chance to feel confident performing to others. I played senior rugby at 1st team level from Year 12 and feeling involved in such a prestigious sport with a great group of players beside me was challenging but most importantly extremely fun!
My experiences as a bursary award holder have shaped my life as it is. Without the top quality support I have received from KES academically, pastorally and within sport I don’t even know what I’d be doing! The award has allowed me to not be held back by finances and be able to access high level education so I can make the most of my academic talent with the teaching offered at KES.
Noah Miller – Millfield, Somerset
‘I have been able to pursue all my interests from dance to rugby, hurdles to piano and singing’
I was lucky enough to attend Millfield on a dance and athletics scholarship. I joined in Lower Sixth in 2021 due to the exceptional level of coaching I knew I would receive. I was looking for the next level up from my previous school and Millfield ticked all the boxes. I studied A-levels in Economics, Maths and PE.
I played the prince in Millfield’s dance show adaptation of Cinderella but also competed in the 400-meter hurdles and made the national finals, breaking the school record. I am currently ranked 5th in the UK for U20. I was a member of the 1st XV rugby team which clinched the inaugural Schools Championships at the World Schools Festival in Thailand. I also feature in The Season, a documentary covering Millfield Rugby’s 2022-23 campaign. Millfield has allowed me to pursue all my interests. I am a self-taught pianist and this year was Captain of School. You are surrounded by like-minded people here who are determined to achieve. It creates an atmosphere of drive and passion.
Pelagia Beekma – Royal High School Bath, GDST
‘Being a bursary student has been a life changer’
Attending the open day at Royal High School Bath, GDST, was a life changer for me. I went in with an inkling of hope, knowing fully well I would not be able to afford such a school. After witnessing what the school had to offer, I knew I had to try everything to get in, and without a bursary it wouldn’t have been possible.
I joined in Year 7 and like every student I had my weaknesses and struggled with confidence. However, the nurturing atmosphere of Royal High equipped me with the skills to conquer them. This has strongly motivated me to build my aspiration of becoming a doctor. I have attended many webinars and invaluable sessions at MedSoc provided by school. These would not have been accessible had I not been on a bursary, and they have sparked my desire for medicine more than ever.
As an enthusiastic dancer, I have had the opportunity to be a part of an incredible dance community: performing in shows, attending competitions and meeting successful dancers. A recent workshop offered me the chance to explore my passion for dance, later allowing me to qualify for a dance scholarship.
Following my current assignment as Deputy Head Girl, I have been given the opportunity to make a positive impact to the GDST community and this has provided me with crucial leadership skills. My involvement in the Bath Youth Parliament (BYP) has similarly equipped me with interpersonal skills important for my future working life and led me to attain the Alumnae Networking Cup and attend the GDST 150 event – the most inspiring moment as a bursary student – where I listened to successful alumnae and stories of how they made their mark. The regular encouragement awarded to each student of the GDST truly impacts their development, not only academically, but personally too.
Sam Ruddock – Rugby School, Rugby
‘This school was supposed to be beyond boys like me’
I have heard ironic stories about the initial history that our family has with Rugby School. My great-grandfather went to Lawrence Sheriff School (a boys’ grammar school in Rugby); he had been offered a scholarship to Rugby, but his parents said he was getting too big for his boots and wouldn’t be allowed to attend.
This theme of the school being simply beyond the reach of working-class boys in the town continued. However, my mother insisted to her friends that I would one day go to Rugby. Like my grandfather’s parents, they also scoffed and scorned, saying a boy like me ‘doesn’t go to places like that’. I am proud to say that she didn’t listen to their assessment of my future. I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for the scholarships, grants and financial support that made going to Rugby possible.
As I am a professional sportsman, people often ask if I completed a sports degree at Loughborough University and are dismayed upon hearing confessions of my twisted and jaded love for current affairs and politics. Being given a Foundation award (a bursary programme for day students living within 20 miles of Rugby School), becoming an Academic Scholar, and studying History, English Language and Economics set the stage for further study in these fields.
My grandmother paid for my scholarship exams; the Foundation award allowed me to have a robust education and experience; and my Science teacher, who was also the school’s basketball coach, bought my jersey and shorts due to the financial constraints at home. Money should never be a barrier to progress and, given the current state of economic affairs, the generosity of donors to make funding available for the next generation is needed now more than ever.