£1 million donation supports North East students to succeed at Durham University

A major scholarships programme to help students from low-income backgrounds in North East England to study at Durham University has received a new donation of £1 million.

The donation to the Durham Inspired North East Scholarships program, which supports exceptional young people from across the region to fulfil their potential at Durham, comes from Dr Malcolm and Mrs Patricia Anne Race, who have created a perpetual scholarship for four students each year from the North East wishing to study History and Liberal Arts.

Malcolm and Anne met at Durham in 1959 where they both read Modern History, and both were the first of their families to attend university. After some years working outside the region, they settled in Northumberland in 1977 where they raised their three children.

Their son Charles said:

“The North East of England has given so much to our family, and the benefits we have all gained from a university education inspired us to put this scholarship together.

“We hope that others who may not have the means to progress to Durham are given that opportunity and we can in a very small way repay the region for all it has done for us.”

Over 20 students per year will receive Durham Inspired North East Scholarships of £4,000 a year to study for foundation, undergraduate and Masters-level qualifications, with £1,500 of the grant to support students’ wider university experiences, internships, careers support and skills training.

The Durham Inspired North East Scholarships were established in 2020 with a £2 million endowment as part of a landmark £7.5 million donation from Durham university graduate Charles Wilson, and his partner Dr Rowena Olegario, an Oxford University researcher, along with donations from the Ruth & Lionel Jacobson Charitable Trust, and Edward Knight and Peter Ellis.

The programme complements existing scholarship schemes focused on North East England, including the Robert Young Scholarship, the St Nicholas Scholarships and the Brian Cooper Scholarship, and the University Vice-Chancellor’s North East awards. The latest donations will also support the wider Durham Inspired Campaign which supports the next generation of inspiration and leadership through Durham University.

Katie Harland-Edminson, Deputy Director (Development), Development and Alumni Relations, Durham University, said the university was “delighted and thankful” to receive these “very generous donations”  that will create more opportunities for exceptional young people from the region and further enable the university to “welcome the best and brightest students with the merit and potential to succeed at Durham, regardless of their economic circumstances or their background”.

One such student is 19-year-old Grace Purnell from Hartlepool, for whom a scholarship from Durham University has opened up “a field of opportunities”. Second-year environmental geoscience student Grace, a former student at St Hild’s Church of England School, Hartlepool, and Bede Sixth Form College, Billingham, received the Brian Cooper scholarship that supports young people from County Durham with tuition fees, living expenses, and other costs of Higher Education.

“Thanks to the scholarship, I’ve never had to turn down an opportunity at Durham because of money which is something that would have been a significant barrier to me,” Grace said. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met and I’ve done a lot of new things I hadn’t done before.”

She credits the scholarship for enabling her to take full advantage of university life, including being on the production team for the summer musical at St Mary’s College, playing on the college hockey team, and being a member of the Durham Palaeontological Society and Geology for Global Development. She’s even looking to take up basketball this year!

Anyone thinking of applying to Durham “absolutely should”, she said, “and if you’re thinking about applying for a scholarship, absolutely do. Even if you don’t think you’ll get it, just apply for it because you never know what’s going to happen. It really can be life-changing – and it was.”

Grace’s future plans include further exploration of palaeontology or potentially going into environmental law.  “I’m really just looking at a field of opportunities and it’s very exciting!”

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