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Cash boost for Cardiff medical students

07 March 2011

Helping Pakistan’s health services recover from the devastation of the floods, giving Cardiff’s youngsters a much deserved summer holiday and supporting Ireland’s bid for women’s Six Nations rugby 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 Cardiff 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 to support extra curricular activities.

Dean of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, Professor Paul Morgan 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 Scholarships illustrate, 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.

"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. The Dr Jack Scholarships will help subsidise the cost as much as possible, to enable more children to come," said medical student Katherine Burden.

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 helped 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 have 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 my 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 with her Scholarship going some way to helping her combine her passion for sport and medicine.
"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," she added.

Helping Pakistan’s flood victims

Providing 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 also that the experience will help their training as doctors and help them 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.

Further information, or to donate to the Dr Jack Matthews Scholarship fund, is available at:



Further information, please contact:

Chris Jones
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 874731

Cardiff School of Medicine
Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health. A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities. The medical curriculum followed at the School enables students to acquire and apply knowledge, skills, judgement and attitudes appropriate to delivering a high standard of professional care. Around 300 new doctors currently graduate from the School every year and the Welsh Assembly Government has invested substantially in new teaching facilities to increase this number further.

The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health. The School has six interdisciplinary research groups to draw upon its own strength in depth and the vast range of expertise available across Cardiff University.

These groups are addressing cancer; health sciences research; cardiovascular sciences; genomic approaches to health and disease; infection, immunity and inflammation; metabolism repair and regeneration. The School continually invests in facilities, with major developments including the Henry Wellcome Building for Biomedical Research in Wales, the largest enterprise of its kind ever in Wales. This £11M centre contains research laboratories and facilities for patients to participate in investigations of new disease treatments.

The School has been instrumental in establishing and running many important national research initiatives including the Wales Gene Park, Wales Cancer Bank, the Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair and the Healing Foundation UK Centre for Burns Research. The Wales Gene Park is involved in biomedical research, the provision to the NHS of novel diagnostic and clinical services, knowledge dissemination, genetics and genetics education, and the successful commercialisation of innovations arising from such activities.

The Wales Cancer Bank is a collaborative project involving several Welsh NHS Trusts, the universities of Bangor and Swansea and the Welsh Assembly Government and is the first population-based collection of tumour and control tissue samples in Wales. The research will help establish the causes of cancer, help identify new areas for treatment and find out the best way to care for individual patients. The Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair uses scientific research to solve problems which are placing a heavy burden on health services around the world, such as, eye repair, chronic wounds, kidney repair and sports injuries. The Healing Foundation UK Centre for Burns Research is a multi-million pound collaboration investigating treatments and support for the physical and mental rehabilitation of the 14,000 people suffering severe burns in the country every year.

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.