American Football coach Rick touches down to scholarship success

It’s never too late to rethink your career. Just ask Rik Southworth.

After 10 years working as an accountant, Rik decided to follow his heart and turn a favourite pastime into a new career coaching American football. This brought Rik to Edge Hill University where he spent five years coaching the Lancashire American Football team and the Edge Hill Vikings American football team, winning the prestigious Edge Hill Coach of the Year award in 2016. Rik’s love of coaching resulted in him joining the University’s BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Development degree.

It was while preparing to study at Edge Hill that Rick heard about the Sports Scholarship. With such an impressive background in coaching and his commitment and love for sport being so evident, it’s no surprise that Rik’s application was successful!

“I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Sports Scholarship as I entered the first year of my degree.

My five years coaching before deciding to come to Edge Hill have been crammed with amazing experiences coaching American Football for the Lancashire Academy.

Before joining as a student in September, I accepted the role of Head Coach here at Edge Hill and also at Lancashire. To have finally reached the level of Head Coach in a sport I love is a dream come true. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

In my time with Lancashire I have travelled all over the country coaching and been fortunate enough to work alongside the Head Coach of the national team. I have also helped to make a difference to the lives of many of the athletes I’ve coached on and off the field. Experiences like this pushed me into making a career change after 10 years as an accountant and follow my love of coaching into a degree.

I couldn’t recommend Edge Hill enough to anyone looking to study coaching or sport. The facilities are world class, lecturers are always looking to help you better yourself and the courses really help to expand your knowledge.”

Luca ignites his wanderlust and becomes an award-winning travel guide

Luca Alfatti, a former DipHE Paramedic Practice student and scholarship winner is an award-winning overland tour guide. In 2012, Luca won the Wanderlust World Tour Guide Award, making him one of the best travel guides in the world!

Luca got the travelling bug at the age of 21, when he hopped on a plane to the USA to work at a summer camp – despite the fact he didn’t speak any English. Nowadays, Luca is fluent in four languages, including his native Italian, and can say ‘thank you’ in at least 15. He claims this as one of his most useful skills, one that gets him a long way when travelling to some of the most remote tourist destinations on earth. Luca has led tours across Europe, Asia, Africa and all around Central and South America. In 2013, he co-led the first ever commercial tour through the remote Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. His adventurous expeditions certainly aren’t for the faint hearted. In the Wakhan Corridor, it takes six days of travelling through mountainous terrain before you even arrive at the trailhead to start the 12 day trek.


For Luca, studying to be a paramedic was a natural extension of his well-established first aid skills that he has used when working as a guide. Now qualified, Luca hopes to return to guiding and use his knowledge to give some level of medical help to those who reside in the challenging environments he visits. He donated his £5,000 World Guide Award bursary to a charity which provides shelter and vital medical care to women and children in Guatemala after he witnessed the lack of essential services available to women in the country. In addition to the financial support, Luca set up a Central American trip which took its travellers to the charity centre while he was working for overland tour company, Dragoman, a feat which he says makes him “very proud”.

In addition to his guiding, Luca is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, which is the highest level of membership an individual can achieve and requires you to be nominated by two existing fellows before being elected by the council. Luca dedicates some of his spare time (though how he has any is a mystery!) to attending RGS events where he helps to advise aspiring explorers on their upcoming adventures.

Luca’s dedication and positive attitude allowed him to continue to train for and plan trips for his summer breaks whilst keeping up with a 45 hour a week university course! Despite the physical demands of his job and the time constraints of his course, Luca said that he enjoys what he does so much that he has “never found the job hard”. An Edge Hill University scholarship has proven to be just the start of his success.

Daniel bowled over by international cricket success

Daniel Hamm, a member of the England PD (Physical Disability) Cricket Team, was awarded a Sports Scholarship in his first year at Edge Hill in 2013. Since then, Daniel has gone from strength to strength and played in cricket tournaments around the world. Now in his final year of his Physical Education and School Sport Degree, Daniel hopes to continue studying at Edge Hill for a PGCE. Here’s what he’s been up to…

“Since my previous tour towards the back end of my first year at Edge Hill in 2014, the time has flown by! Currently in my final year and having just submitted my PGCE application the time has truly gone too quick. I have been fortunate enough to not only go on tour again with England, but to become champions, as well as being fairly happy with the results I am gaining at university.

The tour in September 2015 was over in Bangladesh, just outside of Dhaka and the interesting country and culture added to the unforgettable experience I had. We participated in a five country tournament named the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) International Cricket Tournament for People with Physical Disabilities. The countries were ourselves (England), the hosts Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. It began after two flights consisting of about 15 hours. After stopping in Abu Dhabi, we continued on into the late night and were greeted by constantly soaring temperatures and 90% humidity, followed by rain, rain and more rain.

We began the tournament by losing against Bangladesh in front of a home crowd of a fair few hundred. We then went on to beat all of the remaining countries in the group stage to finish top of the group and to face our old enemies from the previous tour, Pakistan. This amazing experience ended with us winning the match and creating history by becoming the first team to win the whole tournament. The response from back in England was surreal. The media coverage was incredible and included tweets from various cricket players and other high profile people, as well as the opportunity to do a lap of honour around Old Trafford Cricket Ground, and playing in a Help for Heroes charity event at the KIA Oval in London.

An amazing summer concluded with my return to Edge Hill to get my head down to work hard for the grades I need for my PGCE in Secondary PE, as I am hoping to embark on a career in teaching. I’m sure the end of third year will come around a lot faster than expected and that I’ll soon be working towards a career I have always dreamt of and will enjoy.”

Kelly earns international recognition playing the beautiful game

I’ve recently been issuing our Sports Scholars with complimentary hoodies. While doing so, I bumped into Kelly Bourne, one of our Sports Scholarship winners who received a gold award last year.

Kelly was awarded a scholarship based on her achievements in women’s football. She has played for Cardiff City, Blackburn Rovers and represented her country, Wales, at U19’s level.

Kelly is now in the final year of her degree in BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology. As she starts to think about what to do next, I caught up with her to chat about her achievements so far.

“Growing up with two brothers meant I often played different sports to my female friends and took an immediate interest in football. At the age of five, I would always have a ball at my feet, whether it was running through the garden, to being screamed at by my mum for ‘playing football in the house’.

When I started primary school, we had an assembly promoting a local community centre that had just opened. This caught my interest and I was there every day after school, playing football, netball, anything really that I could get my hands, or feet, on. I was even the first person to ever play football in the indoor arena at the community centre which for a young girl/aspiring female footballer, the feeling was amazing.

From there on, things got better and better, I got trials for Cardiff City Football Club and got accepted. Developing through school, I then applied for a Futsal and Education Scholarship at Cardiff City Football Club. Futsal is a great game. The small sized pitch, different size ball and the range of technical and tactical abilities required were really beneficial when going into regular 11-a-side football afterwards. I have continued playing futsal for Bristol City Futsal Club and in summer 2015 we won the Women’s Futsal FA Cup.

At the age of 18, I got my first call-up to the Welsh International set up. Just the call-up in itself is an extremely great honour but I’ve been lucky enough to represent my country four times in Hungary, Russia and in the U19’s UEFA Final Tournament which was hosted in Wales. Since starting university, I have played for Edge Hill’s women’s football team and have been playing for Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

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A common question that I get asked is ‘how do you manage to fit it all in?’ but when you are playing a sport you love so much, and you’ve spent your whole life fitting it around everything else, it’s something you just do. Towards the end of my second year in university, I got a call-up to my first ever senior international camp. The prospect was daunting but something I will remember forever. The camp went well and gave me key areas to really push on and improve individually.

The financial support from the Sports Scholarship has and will help me develop in these areas identified at the senior international camp. Likewise, the scholarship has helped fund my travel costs. Moving away from home, where I’m no longer ten minutes from the training ground, means travelling quite a distance to training sessions. Unfortunately as the women’s game is yet to grow financially, this means at Blackburn Rovers we had no expenses covered.

I am thankful for the support of the scholarship. I honestly do believe, if you are good at something, let people know about it and apply. You should be proud and not hold back!”

Josh’s valiant volunteering efforts rewarded with a scholarship

I recently caught up with one of our 2014/15 Excellence Scholars, Josh Mayers, who is now a second year student on our BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree.

Josh was awarded an Excellence Scholarship in recognition of his tremendous volunteering work, from coaching tennis to young children, to volunteering in a cancer information and support centre, and completing charity work for Camp Project Wales and Age UK.

While much of Josh’s voluntary work was undertaken completing Duke of Edinburgh awards, Josh also now has an Excellence Scholarship to add to his CV.

“I decided to volunteer as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. As I really enjoyed sport, I decided to approach the school tennis coach to ask if I could assist him with extra curricular activities coaching primary school children. This role involved leading little warm-up games with small groups, setting up the equipment for the sessions and teaching key tennis skills such as the serve, a forehand stroke, backhand, volley, slice and smash. I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside a tennis coach to learn how to work with young children, as this is something I have considered as a career in the future. I enjoyed it so much that I continued with this volunteering for both my Bronze and Silver awards.

As I began my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award I decided to undertake a new challenge. As cancer had unfortunately touched our family, I decided to volunteer at the Macmillan Delamere Cancer Information and Support Centre. This centre receives very little funding and therefore relies heavily on volunteer support and fundraising events.

During my volunteer service at the Delamere Centre I was involved with a number of different tasks including interacting with patients and relatives whilst providing refreshments, producing posters and tickets for fundraising events, and creating spreadsheets to record charitable donations received. I was then asked by the Centre Manager to continue my voluntary work helping a personal trainer as part of a new cancer rehabilitation programme. This work required me to work on a one-to-one basis with the patients, providing support, stability and guidance whilst they took part in activities (which I’d also helped to set up).

The Gold Duke of Edinburgh award is very challenging, particularly as it involves a residential for which I volunteered at a local charity ‘Camp Project Wales’. This is a local charity that provides annual holidays for disadvantaged children; a fantastic cause. I attended monthly planning meetings, assisted with fundraising events and attended the 10-day camp itself. During the camp, I worked with a designated group of children supervising outdoor activities such as canoeing, rounders, football and swimming sessions. It was great seeing these children engaged and having fun!

After completing my GCSEs, I was keen to find part-time work over the summer holidays which was difficult due to a lack of experience. I therefore decided to volunteer at my local Age UK shop to gain some valuable work experience, as I believed this would show my commitment and dedication to a prospective employer. My duties included receiving donations, arranging displays and putting stock out, pressing clothing, assisting customers and working on the till.

It was all of these experiences that I included in my scholarship application. I never imagined the application would be successful as I knew it would be very competitive so I was overwhelmed when I found out. The scholarships has helped with me with my travel costs so I have been able to continue with my voluntary work.

I am now in my second year at Edge Hill University. I absolutely loved every minute of my first year and would love to do it all over again! I lived on campus for my first year and had a ball meeting loads of new people and making friends for life. It has been challenging at times as the course has been difficult, getting my head around referencing and meeting assignment deadlines. These have not been the only challenging things about University. I have had to learn how to budget my money and start looking after myself, doing my own washing and ironing. Before starting University I didn’t even know how to use a washing machine!”

Anna emerges from backstage to return to the spotlight

It’s always nice to hear how each of our scholars reacts to the news that their application to receive a scholarship has been successful.

Sharing the news with Anna Heatley was particularly memorable when, by pure coincidence, she discovered that her achievements were being recognised on what was already a day of celebration!

Awarded an Excellence Scholarship in recognition of her dedication to creative arts, Anna talked to me about making the transition from being a performer to working behind the scenes on various productions which her commendable charity work has helped to bring to an audience.

Although Anna prefers being a stage manager or set designer to being part of a cast these days, I’m happy to throw the spotlight on her one more time as a deserving scholarship winner!

“It was my 23rd birthday, I was out celebrating, when I received a phone call from Edge Hill University informing me that I had been awarded an Excellence Scholarship in Creative Arts. I was in shock, I had never expected to be selected. It was great news, especially as a mature student I was nervous about embarking on a degree and so this news settled my nerves and gave me confidence.

Over the past 15 years I have joined 6 dramatic organisations, all charity funded, within my local community. It all started when I joined the Warrenpoint Pantomime Club, at the age of seven. Since then I’ve played various roles in numerous productions, both musicals and classic plays. However, as I progressed with my involvement with these organisations, I realised I wasn’t born to perform, I was destined to combine my other passions with theatre.

I completed a 3D Art course a couple of years ago that equipped me with the skills required to be involved with other aspects of the theatrical world such as make-up, lighting, sound, set design and construction. I have worked backstage on various productions including Godspell, Footloose, The Beauty Queen of Leenan, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Frankenstein. My efforts were recognised when working on these sets by receiving the following nominations:

  • Youngest Stage Manager in Newry and Mourne (Footloose 2012)
  • Youngest Set Designer (Godspell, 2011, Footloose 2012, The Yalta Game 2012, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern 2013 and Frankenstien 2014

As all of the societies I have been involved with relied on charitable funding, I have spent a great deal of time helping in fundraising schemes which enable the productions to go ahead. As I embark on my degree in BA (Hons) Theatre Design I hope to continue my involvement with both fundraising and with set design.”

I can safely say that Anna has stuck to her word as I have seen her at events around campus fundraising and campaigning for the ‘Coppafeel’ campaign, a worthwhile cause in getting females to check their breasts. If you are interested in finding out more about this charity, please visit

Oh, what a night!

Less late December 1963 and more mid November 2015, but oh what a night it was at the recent Scholarship Awards Ceremony!

After weeks of organising the event, it was great to see everyone enjoying themselves and celebrating the success of our class of 2015.

This was our biggest Scholarship Awards Ceremony to date with more than 400 guests in attendance. Visitors included local dignitaries, representatives from local colleges, University staff and, most importantly, 136 scholars and prize winners – the people that the evening was really all about.

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

Seeing the excitement and anticipation among the scholars and prize winners as they arrived to register, with their proud family members and guests looking on, was a joy to behold.

Once seated in the theatre, we had a quick run through the evening with the scholars. I’m not sure who was more nervous – me or them! Once guests were seated, the buzz in the theatre was fantastic.

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

Lesley Munro, Clerk to the Governors, opened the ceremony and began to read out a profile of each scholar before presenting their awards. After hearing about the success of our first scholarship winner, I thought “Wow, Alex has had some great achievements with his photography”, then the second profile was read out and again I reflected “Wow, how has Darby achieved so much with her film making”! By the fifth student, I thought I was in a room with super heroes, they had all done some truly fantastic things!

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

You can read about some of our 2015 scholars’ achievements, along with the stories of a selection of previous winners, on the Case Studies pages of our Scholarships website.

Professor Tanya Bryon, the University’s Chancellor, handed the awards to the recipients on the red carpet and closed the ceremony with some very inspiring words. We were then treated to a fantastic buffet – definitely not food that I had prepared with my own fair hands! This was delicious and very enjoyable, I must say. I definitely need to add some cheese hedgehogs to my festive shopping list!

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

Photographer Stuart Rayner was on hand during the evening and took some fantastic photos that I’m sure our scholars and their families will cherish. You can browse through the photos on our Scholarship Awards Evening Gallery. Apologies in advance for any unintentional photobombing by myself in the background!

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

Returning to work the morning after the awards evening and opening my emails made my day! I received so many messages from scholarship winners saying how much they had enjoyed the evening and thanking me for arranging it. However, in all honesty I shouldn’t be the one receiving the thanks. It’s the scholars and prize winners who deserve the credit since without their hard work, dedication and talent we wouldn’t have the success to celebrate – so, from me to all of them, THANK YOU!

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

You can check out a small selection of the comments I received below.

“The number of people who excelled in their own area was amazing, the stories were nothing short of inspirational. I had heard that the awards ceremony was the best night of the year and I can now say that this was absolutely correct – it was amazing. It was such an amazing event – with a wonderful buffet afterwards!” – Danny Powis

“The red carpet was intimidating but didn’t half make the evening feel special! Thank you for a great night.” – Bethan Shields

“It was a very well organised evening and it made me feel very proud of what I have achieved. Chancellor Tanya Byron also spoke some amazing and inspiring words which gave it a nice added touch! A lovely and awesome evening! A special night that I’ll never forget!” – Jessica Cain

“What a wonderful awards evening. I was really proud of my daughter and her achievements. Thank you for recognising and celebrating this.” – Parent.

Scholarship Awards Evening 2015

If you’re a prospective or current student reading this and think it could be you who’s treading the red carpet at next year’s Scholarship Awards Ceremony, then you can find out more about the University’s scholarships and check your eligibility using our Scholarships Calculator. Applications and nominations open early next year.

Keara’s summer of a lifetime

Keara Sterling, an Excellence Scholarship winner, caught up with me recently after returning from an amazing summer of volunteering in Fiji and America, as well as visiting Australia. Prepare to be very jealous as she shares her adventures below!

“I was awarded an Excellence Scholarship (for volunteering) at the end of the second year of my BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport degree. My love of sport not only inspired me to study the subject at degree level but also inspired me to volunteer in industry. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my passion in sport and motivating others to get involved. For eight hours a week I coach trampolining with ‘Momentum Trampoline Club’ and ‘BEST Gymnastics’ to young people. Four hours of this is dedicated to teaching young people with disabilities.

Not only do I volunteer in the sporting field but for the last few years I have been heavily involved in volunteering in my local community, representing the voice of young people and breaking the barriers created by the media towards young people. One of the roles I did for three years was that of ‘Voice’. This is a local youth forum that would meet for five hours a week to plan and discuss local issues in the community and how we could overcome this. Along with this volunteering, I also volunteered with ‘YAK’ (Youth Action Council) and ‘S.H.A.G’ (Sexual Health Advisory Group).

My voluntary work has enabled me to travel worldwide and visit some amazing places. This summer I was lucky enough to travel not only to America and Australia but also to Fiji. It all started in 2012 when I was nominated to represent the United Kingdom on a project in Bremen, Germany. I went out to Germany for two weeks to volunteer at military heritage sites maintaining the graves from World Wars One and Two. This was an amazing opportunity as it involved people from all over Europe.

In 2014, I was selected to spend summer in Chicago, teaching football or ‘soccer’ as they call it. This was an amazing opportunity for me to develop my subject knowledge on how to deliver a range of engaging sessions to a variety of individuals, from advanced level to beginners. Each week I would be working with a new team/group of young people. This summer I completed a similar project with ‘Challenger’ based in Texas. After completing this project I traveled back to Chicago to meet up with some friends that I made from the previous summer.

After spending three months in Texas, I returned to the UK before flying out to Australia for a a holiday and then on the way back stopped off at Fiji to take part in a Voluntary Physical Education project for four weeks. Here, I worked supporting young people at Mana Island School. I thoroughly loved working with these children and learning new skills such as weaving and attending my first Kava ceremony!

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I am now back in my third and final year and have just found out that I have been accepted on to a PGCE course starting in September 2016 – I cannot wait! I just wonder if next summer will live up to the experiences of this summer – it was definitely a summer of a lifetime!”

Rebecca scores Sports Scholarship and aims to inspire others

Rebecca Foster is one of our most enthusiastic scholars who is constantly helping to promote the scholarships across the University. She has assisted at numerous events this year and I was delighted to open my emails this morning to find she has agreed to share her achievements on this blog!

A footballer with Preston North End Ladies, Rebecca is also a referee and dreams of becoming a Physical Education teacher in the future.

Phew, just talking about all that exercise has left me needing a lie down so, without too much further ado, I’ll hand you over to Rebecca whose love for the beautiful game and Edge Hill University is infectious!

“Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am in my second year at Edge Hill University, studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport. I have enjoyed every moment of being at University and can see why we were recently awarded ‘THE University of the Year’ because we definitely deserve it!

I was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2013. My whole life focuses around football and has done for as long as I can remember. I currently play for Preston North End and we compete in the Northern Women’s Premier League. I am also honoured this year to be the Captain for the Edge Hill University football team. As well as playing, I also referee and I am currently up for promotion to advance in the refereeing levels. One day you will all hopefully be seeing me on Sky Sports and Match of the Day!

I started playing when I was 11 for my local team Cadishead JFC. We were the first girls’ team in our area. I played here until I was 15. During my time with Cadishead JFC, I won South Manchester’s player of the season for two years, which was voted by other team players and managers. I then moved to Altrincham Juniors where I played for 2 seasons before I started playing open age football. At the time this felt like it was a massive leap playing with all of the ‘big girls’.  I started open age football with Irlam Ladies FC and then moved to play with Manchester City Ladies. This was extremely exciting for me, training and playing at a high level and having the opportunity to travel all over the country. Playing at City made me into the player I am today as I had to massively adapt my game. I improved a lot technically and found myself playing in a defensive midfield role, unlike when I was playing in a striker’s position with my local teams, I had to get used to not scoring five a game!

In 2013, I left Manchester City just before they became a Women’s Super League team and went to Preston North End where I am now and absolutely love playing here. I am part of a great club which has fantastic coaching staff, backroom staff and players. Last season we finished 2nd in the league and won the County Cup, beating Blackburn in the final (had to get that bit in there!) This year we are still in two cup competitions, the FA Plate and the County cup, where we play Blackburn (again) in the Semi-final. Two of my friends who are both also Sports Scholars at Edge Hill play for Blackburn, so we have a lot of friendly rivalry!

Preston North End have recently become partners of the “Just a ball game” campaign, raising awareness for LGBT. “Just a ball” aims to raise understanding about equality and diversity, combat discrimination and homophobia in sport. We are all massively proud to be supporting this.

So, back to University. As I have already said I love studying here and after my three years I am hoping to progress on to a PGCE course at Edge Hill, getting me that one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher. This will enable me to educate and inspire the next generation to love sport as much as I do!”

Michael walks in fields of gold thanks to scholarship

It’s always great to hear the stories of what our scholars have been up to and how receiving a scholarship has helped them.

An Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students has made a big difference to Michael Scott-Abbott.

Michael has used his scholarship to fund the purchase of equipment to support both his studies and his passion for film and TV. One of the end results is a fantastic new music video to accompany a beautiful cover version of Fields of Gold. Michael will take you on the journey from receiving a scholarship to capturing a new take on a Sting classic in his own words!

“When I’m not studying for a BA (Hons) Film and Television Production degree, I’m working with multiple companies across the North West producing video content that ranges from advertisements, applications (for businesses to apply for grants/funding or get involved with programmes), to short films and music videos.

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Recently, I worked with a company that was commissioned by the National Lottery and Age Concern to produce five short films focusing on the war effort and how that has affected and is perceived from one generation to another. I’ve also spent a lot of time working with a company that is focused on bringing a fantastic range of education theatre, tailored directly for students, to schools across England. With this company I worked on a documentary regarding cyberbullying which was revised into a physical show and performed at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool throughout the summer which was absolutely fantastic (even if I am biased!).

Being awarded with this scholarship at the beginning of my studies, I was given the opportunity to invest in and push my creativity to levels that I wouldn’t have been able to beforehand. I was given the chance to purchase equipment that has proved crucial to my work, both as part of my degree and outside of my studies: equipment that made me available to collaborate and seek out other creative partners. I’ve been extremely lucky because of it and feel it has really helped to enrich my University experience. One of my first projects using the new equipment was just over a year and half ago, filming and producing a music video, with gaining over 1,000 views!

Here’s a couple of photos from the day itself. It was a great day!

As for plans following University, I was lucky enough to attain a graduate job after my tutor, Elke Weissmann, recommended myself and a small number of students to apply for the position. Attending multiple assessments and interviews, I still can’t believe that I was chosen as a Junior Film Production Executive for a firm based in Preston and London.”