Bursary Winners

Mariah Clarke

Bursary puts Mariah on the career path


Young Studley mum, Mariah Clarke, is well on the road to providing a secure future for herself and her young son thanks to the bursary she received through our 25th Anniversary Scheme.

Mariah, who fell pregnant while she was still at school, used the bursary to buy a laptop to enable her to start an Access to Higher Education Health & Social Care course at Heart of Worcestershire College in Redditch.

She’s now nearing the end of her first year of studies and says the laptop has already saved her an enormous amount of time and money.

She explains: “Having my own laptop has been a real godsend.  I use it every single day and it’s helped me so much with all the work I have to do at home for the course.

“If I didn’t have it, I’d have to use the library computers and I don’t know how I’d have managed, to be honest.”

Mariah admits that the first few months of the course have been tough, but she’s determined to stick with it and ultimately realise her dream of going to university.

When her son, Harley, starts school in September she hopes that life will get a bit easier.

She says: “The course I’m doing at the moment is really hard work.  I hadn’t done any studying since 2011 when I was still at school, so it’s been quite difficult to get back into it, especially as I now have Harley to look after as well.

“I’m determined to do it though as this is what I really want.  I want to do a degree in psychology, paramedic science or midwifery and get a good job.  I’m so grateful to the housing association for helping me return to education and fulfil my ambitions, both for myself and Harley.”

Jenny Yates

Bursary winner Jenny Yates: Shared owner studies for counselling career


Jenny Yates

Bursary winner Jenny Yates: Shared owner studies for counselling career.


It's been a tough few years for bursary recipient, Jenny Yates, but the end is in sight.

Jenny from Snitterfield received £500 through Warwickshire Rural Housing Association’s 25thAnniversary Bursary Scheme to help with the costs of her part-time foundation degree course in counselling and psychotherapy.

She’s now in her third and final year and says although it’s been hard work fitting in all her studying while holding down a full-time job, it’s certainly been worth all the effort.

“This year the course has become a lot more intense,” Jenny explains.  “We do a lot of personal development work which involves getting to know who you are as a person and finding out what makes you tick.

“I’m just completing a journal assignment based on the diary I’ve been writing throughout the course to look at how I’ve developed personally.”

As well as studying at Warwick University, Jenny also has a work placement on a Saturday afternoon at a Birmingham agency which offers low-cost counselling.  Plus, she works full-time at a web design agency in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

“At the end of May I’ll complete my foundation degree but am planning to study one more year to achieve a BA (Hons) Degree in Person-centred Counselling and Psychotherapy,” she says.

“I then hope to do some voluntary work for a year or two to gain some experience before looking for counselling opportunities around the Stratford-Upon-Avon area.

“I received excellent bereavement counselling as a teenager and want to help other people in my local area.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to do my studies but the bursary has really helped.  At the end of the day, it’s only four years out of my life and the end result will definitely be worth it.”

Lola Tilling

Bursary winner Lola Tilling received the bursary to assist with her dancing costs


Since receiving a £500 bursary through our 25th Anniversary Scheme, nine-year-old Lola Tilling-Castano has been able to continue with her passion for dancing and is more enthusiastic than ever.

While youngsters often move from one activity to another, Lola has always been determined to keep on dancing.

Mum Susan says: “Every Wednesday we still take Lola to her class in Stretton on Dunsmore and she really enjoys it.  She’s currently doing her Primary exams in modern, ballet and tap.

“The costs can add up though and the bursary has already made a big difference.  We received it over a year ago now and Lola loves her dancing just as much now as she did then.”

As well as the cost of classes, Susan has to fund costumes for the annual Dance Show in May and for the competitions, she takes part in including the annual Tamworth Dance Festival.

“Lola’s just taken part in the Dance Show which she really enjoys.  She needed different types of costumes and the bursary helped to meet the cost again, so we’re very grateful.”

Hannah Scholder-Harper

Anna Harper from Harbury is helping young people with disabilities to socialise.

In 2013, Anna, who uses a wheelchair, set up a support group for young people with additional needs called Friends Connect Friends. She says: “I want to use the bursary to create an innovative local event to encourage and inspire other young people.”

Suzanne Coop

Suzanne Coop lives in Barford, Warwick with her husband and two children.


The £500 bursary which Suzanne Coop received through our 25th Anniversary Scheme continues to have a big impact on her life.

Having enabled her to enjoy a greater independence, the bursary is now helping to put her well on the road to work.

Suzanne Coop, who has spina bifida, used the bursary to enable her to swap her manual wheelchair for a fully operational electric one.

And 42-year-old Suzanne, who lives in Barford, Warwick, with her husband, Scott, and their two children, says her vastly improved set of wheels has given her greater independence and enabled her to seek paid employment in addition to her regular voluntary work.

Suzanne says: “I can manage ok with a manual wheelchair but it’s hard work and I can’t move very quickly.

“To make matters worse, I’ve had an elbow injury since last October which is only just improving, and so the electric wheelchair has been an absolute godsend.”

Suzanne volunteers every week in Barford village shop. The shop, which sells a range of basic groceries, newspapers, fresh local milk, bread, cakes, meat and vegetables, is owned and run by the community and manned by volunteers.

She has also recently applied for a midday supervisor job at the primary school where her two children, Alesha, aged nine, and eight-year-old Thomas, are pupils.

Suzanne says: “My children are getting older now and I felt it was time for me to start looking at other opportunities.

“My electric wheelchair has given me the freedom to get more involved in village life and to look to a more independent future.”