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Cash boost for Cardiff medical students

07 March 2011

Professor Paul Morgan at the launch of the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship FundProfessor Paul Morgan at the launch of the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship Fund

Helping Pakistan’s health services recover from the devastation of the floods, giving Cardiff youngsters a chance to have a summer holiday and supporting Ireland’s bid for women’s Six Nations glory are just some of the projects to receive a cash-boost designed to support Cardiff medical students during their studies.

Launched in April 2009 the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarships offer medical students grants towards the cost of undertaking athletic, artistic, medical or charity work.

Named after Dr Jack Matthews, who graduated from the School of Medicine and enjoyed a successful rugby career playing for Cardiff, the Barbarians, Wales and the British Lions, individual scholarships of up to £750 are awarded to medical students for the best projects.

Professor Paul Morgan, Dean of the School of Medicine said: "We’ve been aware that our medical students do these wonderful things for a long time.

"The Dr Jack Scholarships allow us to help the most exceptional students and support community projects in Wales and across the world.

"The second round of awards show, yet again, how far our medical students are willing to go to broaden their horizons, support communities and in turn their medical careers."

Among the key projects supported by the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarships include:

Supporting Cardiff youngsters

Two Cardiff medical students hope to take youngsters from one of Cardiff’s socially deprived communities on a summer camping trip with the support of their Dr Jack Matthews scholarship.

Katherine Burden and Bethany Watt, who are both volunteers at a youth group at the Beacon Centre in St Mellons, will use their scholarship to help fund a camping trip for local Cardiff youngsters.

Katherine Burden said: "Our youth group, held at the Beacon Centre, St Mellons is run for two age groups, 7-11 and 12-16. It is open on weekday evenings, and is run by a part time youth leader, and four volunteers.
"With the support of the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship we will take some of the youngsters away for a weekend camping. For many of them, this will be their only holiday, so we would love to be able to subsidise the cost as much as possible, to enable more children to come."
This is not the first award the medical students have received. They also received an award in the last round of the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarships to support their youth work.
Katherine Burden, Catherine Bathurst and Bethany Watt received a £500 scholarship which allowed the three to arrange trips including swimming lessons and Christmas visits to Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland.

Katherine added: "The youth group has a budget to cover running costs of the club, but it is very difficult to find funding for trips and other activities.
"Last year, with help from the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship, we were able to take around twenty children to Winter Wonderland in Cardiff, buy lots of craft material, and pay for a small number of the children to attend the camping weekend away.
"This year, we would love to be able to take more of the children with us, as the ones that went last year still talk a lot about what a great time they had."

Award helps boost Ireland’s bid for Six Nations glory

Medical student and Irish women’s rugby star Claire Molloy’s dream of lifting this year’s Six Nations rugby crown has been boosted with the support of her Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship.

Claire, who also combines her medical studies with playing for Bristol Ladies Rugby Club, is a key member of Ireland’s bid for Six Nations glory.

Claire said: "I started playing rugby in the first year of my medical degree and since then I’ve earned 11 caps for my country over the last two years. Last year I earned nine caps, the highlight of which was playing in the World Cup.

"I played for my country in four out of five Six Nations games and played in all of our World Cup Games, where Ireland finished seven out of twelve."

However, despite some financial support, the cost of combining her medical studies and life as an international rugby player has proved to be a financial strain.

The Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship will help relieve some of the financial pressure. Claire added: "The expensive nature of rugby can be quite restrictive financially, even at a basic level of food and utilities.

"Receiving a Dr Jack Matthews fund helps relieve that stress and prevents me from having to juggle a full-time job to help fund my rugby which would only detrimentally affect both my studies and rugby.

Helping Pakistan’s flood victims

Providing increased awareness of basic healthcare to communities in Pakistan affected by the July 2010 floods is key to the financial support received by medical students, Sameena Aslam and Heather Blair.

Supporting the work of the Edhi Foundation, the two medical students plan to use their Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship to help fund a trip to Pakistan later this year.

Heather said: "Working alongside the Edhi Foundation we plan to visit Pakistan and help the victims of the floods.

"We hope the experience will mean that we will both gain medical experience working in both rural and urban settings and appreciate how management of a healthcare system works in a developing country with fewer resources, particularly in the light of the recent natural disasters."

It’s not just the victims that they hope to support. They believe their experience will help their training as doctors and support communities they will meet in the UK.

Heather added: "We are both passionate about international health, particularly in developing countries. We chose Pakistan due to the aims and ethics of the Edhi Foundation, and the need of basic healthcare provision especially the since the floods in July 2010. We both have substantial knowledge of Pakistan’s culture, religion and lingual diversity which will aid us in working alongside the communities there.

"By establishing a relationship with the foundation we would put provisions in place for future ethical electives for other medical students. It would also allow a connection between the medical schools of both countries to participate in student exchanges."

In total, 13 scholarships were awarded to students across all five years of medical study.

The other Cardiff Medical students to receive scholarships were:

Bern-Mari Baker – to support attendance at a major neurophysiology conference in Rome;

Catherine Brindley – to help her compete in ironman triathlons;

Eleanor De Rosa – to support foreign language learning;

Amy Easterbrook – to undertake a course in conflict and catastrophe medicine;

Angharad Griffiths – study costs for a hockey course;

Emma Kealaher – support towards a foreign language course;

Eleanor Parker – to support the work of the Libra Foundation in Romania;

Dena Pitrola – to support the work of ‘Mothers of Africa’ in Liberia;

Richard Thomas and Rohit Srinivasan – to work with a healthcare project in rural Southern India;

Thomas Wright - to support foreign language learning.

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