All posts by Zoe Slater

James gets the recognition he deserves for helping others

We have received a lovely update from one of the winners of our Excellence Scholarships for Current Students in our class of 2013. Below is a copy of his letter. Enjoy!

“Hello there! My name is James Hallworth, I am a third year BA (Hons) History student and I was awarded a scholarship last year from Edge Hill University as recognition of my previous voluntary work.

I have spent the last few years, my summers at least, teaching English to people of all ages and abilities across India and Thailand. Specifically during my time at Edge Hill University, I spent two years as a Student Coordinator for a wonderful little charity named VESL. My roles were to select interested candidates from the university and prepare them for a 6-week summer teaching programme in Northern Thailand. This involved everything from fundraising, language training, teacher training, cultural awareness training, team building etc.

Once in the country, my primary objective was to ensure the smooth running of the project. I did my best to keep the volunteers and students safe and happy whilst getting as much from the experience as possible. In both years, this was challenging. Sometimes volunteers would fall ill and have to spend time in hospital, and at other times you might find yourself in a room with 200 Thai teachers who were semi-fluent in English and expected you to spend six hours helping them to progress. This kind of thing was daunting but continuously rewarding. We try to make small but long-lasting and visible changes to communities. In South East Asia, the ability to speak English in order to gain employment is growing exponentially and that is essentially why VESL send volunteers to this area.

I have experience of working and travelling abroad in many countries, China, Slovakia, India etc. As well as immensely enjoying exploring the world, these kinds of ventures have given me a real sense of consciousness in terms of just how fortunate I am to have been born in England. Here, we have all kinds of luxuries which much of the world simply does not. I hope to travel this summer with a large and well respected charity named ICS to Uganda or Zimbabwe to get involved with some community projects there. These will vary from working in HIV/Aids clinics, to teaching English through sports, to helping petition local authorities for changes that will benefit the community. The money that Edge Hill generously gave me through this scholarship will make this possible and I am extremely grateful for that. The university has shown me nothing but support in the time I have been here, and that includes everyone from the head of the History department to the library staff.

Thanks for reading!”

Rachel helps the youth of today

Rachel Smith was awarded an Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2012 in recognition of her volunteering.  She is now in her second year studying BA (Hons) Primary Mathematics Education with QTS at Edge Hill University.

We had a chat with Rachel to find out more about what her volunteering consists of and how receiving the scholarship has help her to settle in at University.

My mum was looking through the Edge Hill website when she noticed the scholarships. When she first approached me with the idea of applying, I was hesitant as I did not believe that that my volunteering would get me a scholarship.

I had volunteered at a youth club in Hampshire for 5 years (once a week for 3 hours) where I lead small sessions with the young people such as craft and games – it is great to see them having fun in a safe environment.

I also trained as a young leader and became a qualified CAT Mark Assessor, allowing me to assess other youth services from the perspective of a young person. I completed a child protection course and participated on a residential where not only was I able to participate in the fun activities, I was also one of the responsible adults on the trip! Young people are always pleased to have young leaders who are able to relate to more.

I also spent a month in Kenya volunteering in various different areas, building schools (see the photo above) and helping to pump clean water for villages – this was truly an amazing experience! After reflecting on my volunteering, I realised I had done more than I had realised and had nothing to lose, so I decided to put in an application. After all, the worst they could do is say no and I had the opportunity to be awarded £2000 for something I enjoyed doing!

There are many benefits to me having been awarded the scholarship. Not only is it some extra money to help you along the way as a student but I have also been able to use some of the money to travel back to Hampshire to visit and help out at the youth club.

My passion in helping others particularly young people has lead me to study a degree in Primary Education with QTS, where the financial support from the scholarship has helped as I have been able to invest more hours in to helping after school hours on my placements instead of having to work!”

Meghan at the crease for success

As the men’s England Cricket team lose the Ashes to Australia, our own female cricket star is ready to show them how it’s done!

Meghan Montgomery was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Current Students in 2012 in recognition of her sporting achievements. She is now in her second year studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport at Edge Hill University.

We caught up with Meghan to find out more about her blossoming cricket career and to discover how receiving a scholarship has contributed to her success!

I have been playing cricket since primary school and have played at school, district, in male and female clubs, and at county level. I am an opening batter as well as a keen coach. My goal since I began playing cricket has been to achieve the highest individual innings for my county. In August, against Northumberland I achieved this for the 1st XI with 108 runs and in doing so became the first female centurion for Cumbria. Last season’s tour game also saw me achieving another personal best when I scored 94 runs against Warwickshire who are considered a 1st class county.

One of the highlights of my cricketing career came in 2011 when I became the first girl to play in the North Lancashire League first division when I played for Penrith 2nd XI. Another high point was when I was given the Cumbria Women’s 1st XI captaincy; similarly in 2012 I was presented the honour of captaining the Penrith Women’s team and made my maiden century in our first league game. My team were unbeaten throughout the season and went on to win the league. By the end of the season, I was not only named top run scorer of the club but of the league in its entirety. I finished the season with an average of 182.5, with two 100s, a 50 and the Northumberland League batting award.

Cricket has been a large part of my life since a young age. However, it has not been without difficulties. Cricket as a sport is dominated by men and this is something I have had to overcome. In Cumbria, the opportunities for female cricketers have in recent years been sparse but it has been a great source of pleasure and enjoyment that I have been able to offer opportunities to younger girls to take up cricket, particularly when helping to coach teams at my local cricket club. Since moving to Lancashire, I have been volunteering at several schools to provide support and opportunities for engagement within cricket; recently completing my level two coaching qualification has assisted me with this.

Without the help of the scholarship I wouldn’t have been able to afford to travel back on a regular basis or pay for the level 2 qualification which has enabled me to coach. The scholarship has also supported my participation in county training sessions, allowed me to go on tour during the summer, and enabled me to purchase necessary equipment.

My parents have been a great source of support in my achievements; they have driven me across the country for cricket matches and watched almost all of my games. My dad is now the manager of my county and club squads. My top two cricketing moments to date are when I got to open the batting with my dad for the Penrith 3rd team and in the same season scoring my first ever county century and celebrating with him as he carried the water on.

The opportunity I was given by Edge Hill University through the scholarship has been second to none and has supported me in fulfilling my sporting ambitions.

Doubting my excellence

Kristian Richings was awarded an Excellence Scholarship for Current Students in 2013 in recognition of his dedication to volunteering.

A BSc (Hons) Psychology student at Edge Hill University, Kristian is extremely passionate about volunteering, devoting eight hours a week to spending his time as a counsellor with the NSPCC, as an Assistant Teacher with his local jujitsu group, and fundraising for various charities including Children In Need and Macmillan Cancer Research.

We caught up with Kristian to discuss his experience of being awarded a scholarship, where Kristian revealed that he had significant doubts as to whether his voluntary and charity work would merit an award.

“At first glance, I didn’t think I was deserving of a scholarship. I remember re-reading and re-writing some of the sections of the application form, panicking over whether my answers were good enough. I thought that scholarships were only a thing for recognising academic excellence or rewarding selfless individuals who had spent years volunteering for lots of charities. However, I was persuaded to apply by my friends and I’m very glad that I did.

To me, volunteering is natural. As a student, rather than donate money to charitable causes, I try to donate my time and energy to them instead. It’s an incredibly enriching way to spend my free time. As well as gaining great satisfaction from helping others, I also get the chance to meet some amazing people and gain some invaluable experiences.

The Excellence Scholarship has helped me a lot. I have been inspired by the people I have met during the process (and at the award ceremony) to continue with my volunteering despite an increased workload in the second year of my degree. It has meant that I am able to continue volunteering as well as devoting more time to my studies and less to paid work as a result of the scholarship award money.

From doubting my ‘excellence’, I am glad I applied for a scholarship, so if you are doubting your own achievements, all I can say is believe in yourself and submit an application, who knows what the outcome might be!”

Ice hockey scholar competes for Team GB

Rising ice hockey star Sarah Hutchinson, studying BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology at Edge Hill University, was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2013.

Sarah put the funding from her scholarship towards a trip to Trentino in Italy in December, where she played for the GB Women’s University Team in the 2013 Winter Universiade.

We caught up with Sarah to find out how she found the experience, how being awarded a scholarship made a difference to her preparations for the competition, and what she hopes to achieve in the future. Sarah also reflects on what motivated her to apply for an Excellence Scholarship.

The decision for me to apply for a scholarship was fairly easy; I was certain I wanted to be an Edge Hill student and represent the University in any way possible. In my mind, if I had the support of a scholarship behind me I could progress further with my career in ice hockey and have Edge Hill as a key contributing factor to my success – and this is what has happened, as I have just returned from Trentino, Italy, where I represented Great Britain in the Winter Universiade.

The scholarship application process was a valuable experience. After all, you don’t often get the chance to reflect upon your achievements. I have played ice hockey since the age of nine and have represented both England and Great Britain whilst also playing for Kingston Diamonds in the Women’s Premier League. If you are thinking of applying for a scholarship, I cannot advise you any more than saying ‘Go for it’! I have only been at Edge Hill since September 2013 and the support and recognition the scholarship has given me is fantastic.

Over the last three months, receiving a scholarship has enabled me to focus more on my performance as the financial support the scholarship provides has reduced the amount of stress there is when it comes to funding my training and competitions. Ice Hockey is a minority sport in England, so much so that my ‘local’ team for women’s ice hockey is in Hull, 100 miles away, even for training. It’s a huge expense that the scholarship has helped cover massively. Kit is another thing that the scholarship has helped with and having recently broken two sticks in three weeks (oops!) just before going out to Italy to play in the Winter Universiade it was definitely needed!

Sarah Hutchinson

The Winter Universiade is held every two years, each time in a different country across the world. It is considered to be one of the most important international multi-sports events after the Olympics. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the second time to represent Great Britain at the 26th Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy. Once selected we were told that we would have to make an athlete contribution towards the trip. I was lucky enough to have the scholarship to fund this contribution, whilst other members of the team had to look towards sponsorship, raising money, or their parents.

The competition itself was fantastic and an unforgettable experience; having the opportunity to play against the top countries in the world such as Canada, USA and Russia was amazing. What’s even better is we only lost 2-1 to the USA, a result that nobody could ever have imagined.

Looking to the future, over the summer I will be trialing for the GB team that will be travelling to Granada, Spain for the 27th Winter Universiade in February 2015. I also want to carry on finding new challenges for myself. At the beginning of this season, I set myself a challenge of training/playing for the men’s team in Manchester who play in the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL). The training alone has challenged me but I have recently had the opportunity to play in league and cup games which has been great motivation to continue to learn and improve my performance.

My biggest aim at the moment is that I want to do the treble with my women’s team – winning the League (and going to the European Championships), winning the Premier League playoffs, and winning the Elite Cup. It is safe to say I’ll continue playing for as long as I can, and be the best I can be!