Fundraising for brighter futures

Supporting campaigns that seek to shape a brighter future for people and their communities

The University of Plymouth is a registered charity that raises money for projects that seek to shape a brighter future for people and their communities. From fundraising for research into life threatening disease to supporting student wellbeing, here are some examples of where the University and its donors have helped to make a difference in the past six months.

The Plymouth Fund

The University has a proud record of drawing its students from under-represented communities. As an institution that believes that higher education can unlock social mobility, it offers a range of bursaries and fee reductions to help otherwise disadvantaged students to realise their talent and potential.

Among them is the The Plymouth Fund, which provides £2,000 per year for each year of study, as well as extensive pastoral support that wraps around the entire student journey. So, before they’ve even enrolled at the University, prospective students receive support in the shape of pre-entry visits, liaison with support workers, assistance with the application process, and a guarantee of accommodation on campus.

When students do arrive, they receive help with moving in and are given a £200 voucher to cover the cost of setting up. They are given membership of a support group, and provided with opportunities to develop new skills through student ambassador work or employer mentoring. And even after they finish their degree, they are awarded a financial package to cover the cost of graduation, and a further 12 months support to help with the transition to employment.

One such student to benefit was Cheri Duffett, who graduated from the BA (Hons) Business degree in 2013. Cheri was taken into care at the age of four, and had spells living with her mother, her grandparents, and a foster family, before she was able to enrol at Plymouth thanks to The Plymouth Fund.

She said: “It wasn’t an easy start in life or a stable one. But my grandparents instilled in me the importance of an education, and I always wanted to go to university. Sadly, my foster parents weren’t supportive – education wasn’t a priority for them.

“When I was 17, I went to live with my grandparents and they helped me get through my college course, apply for university and achieve the grades I needed to study business at the University of Plymouth.”

Cheri fell ill in her second year, and by her own admission was “close to packing her bags and quitting”. But the University provided a note-taker until she was well enough to return to lectures, and she pulled through her crisis of confidence.

“There were monthly meetings for care leavers, where I met people who faced the same difficulties as me,” Cheri said. “I made friends who really helped me. Without that support, I wouldn’t have made it through to graduation.” 

Cheri is now helping to publicise The Plymouth Fund as part of a University campaign to raise £72,000 to fund 12 students through their degree.

Cheri Duffet
Cheri Duffett – BA (Hons) Business

Brain Tumour Research

The University is an official research Centre of Excellence for the charity Brain Tumour Research (BTR), part of a network of specialists along with Imperial College and Queen Mary University, London, and the University of Portsmouth. Through BTR, the University receives funding for research, which is undertaken by world-leading academics in the Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine. 

The University is also committed to raising additional funds for its research – brain tumour work currently receives just 1 per cent of national cancer funding despite it causing twice as many deaths in young women than cervical cancer. 

In the last few months, thanks to donations from, among others, Saltram Rotary Club, the Peninsula Medical Foundation, and the University’s own facilities team, it has reached its £90,000 funding target to support the work of PhD student Foram Dave. Foram has come to Plymouth for a research project looking at neurofibromatosis type 2-related nervous system tumours such as schwannomas, meningiomas and ependymomas. 

Her work is of particular importance because conventional chemotherapy is ineffective at treating these types of tumours and current therapies such as surgery and radiosurgery have a major impact on patients’ quality of life and survival chances. In severe cases patients suffer multiple tumours that cannot be removed surgically and may often lead to life-threatening complications. Therefore, new drug-based treatments are urgently needed.

Foram, who has a masters degree in biotechnology from VNSGU in India and a masters degree in molecular medicine from Brunel University, will be overseeing drug trials later in the year. She said:

“The reputation of the research team and its ground-breaking work in brain tumour research first attracted my attention to Plymouth. This was the team I wanted to join, and the PhD studentship has provided a fantastic opportunity to make a difference. And this work would have not been possible without this kind of funding support.”

The University has also named one of its laboratories in the new Derriford Research Facility (DRF) after a donor who lost his life to a brain tumour. Richard Somerville was a champion for better healthcare in Cornwall and left a legacy of £100,000 in his will to support the University’s brain tumour research. Richard was a leading health statistician and was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in 2013, and died 18 months later at the age of 69.

His sister, Diane, said: “Richard wanted to make a donation directly to research into brain tumours, where his input would have the most impact. He heard about the work being carried out at the University of Plymouth on BBC Radio 4 and was struck by the close working relationship between Plymouth research teams and clinical colleagues at Derriford Hospital. He was a long-term advocate of this sort of research/clinical collaboration which makes a direct difference to people’s lives and which ties researchers and practitioners closer together. In brain tumour research at Plymouth, he saw a place for his legacy that would achieve all this, and he would have hoped that others would also see the potential of funding research at their own, local university.”

Richard’s name now adorns a special laboratory used to culture brain tumour cells.

The Brain Tumour Research Lab tour of John Bull Building
Brain Tumour Research Lab tour
Foram Dave
Foram Dave

The Tamar Engineering Project

The Tamar Engineering Project (TEP) is a national-first mentoring and scholarship programme that is working to address the shortfall of engineers entering some of our most important specialist industries. With the backing of some major figures in the region, TEP aims to encourage more high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider a degree in the engineering field.

Currently, 29 degree courses are covered, and successful applicants receive one-to-one mentoring from a matched business executive; such executives have included high-profile figures from telecoms, electronics, construction and engineering. They also receive a £1,500 course fee contribution, and £3,000 living costs, for each year of study.

Three students – Gemma Maynard MEng (Hons) Civil and Coastal Engineering; Lewis Smallwood, BSc (Hons) Computer Science; and Hayden Roberts, BSc (Hons) Computer Systems and Networks – have just completed their first year on TEP, and are set to be joined by four more students, who were selected in August.

Gemma said: “When I found out I had been accepted I was ecstatic. I was really looking forward to all the opportunities it was going to bring me and how much it was going to help me develop my career as a civil engineer. And this was the most valuable thing for me: the chance to gain knowledge and to experience new things.”

Gemma Maynard
Gemma Maynard
Lewis Smallwood
Lewis Smallwood
Hayden Roberts
Hayden Roberts