Two young people with a passion for education have been selected to continue the legacy of a champion of North East enterprise and learning.

Mechanical Engineering student Robin Watson, 24, and Primary Education student Alex Bowey, 23, are both in the final year of their studies at the University of Sunderland. The young students have won this year’s Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Award receiving £10,000 each to support them in their final year.

The award was set up in memory of the Wearside-born entrepreneur who died in 2012, aged 89. Sir Tom was a long-term supporter of the University and believed passionately in its principles of affording those with talent, regardless of background, the opportunity to enter higher education. As part of his legacy, the Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Awards were set up to support students to achieve their full potential.

The Scholarship, now in its fifth year, is awarded to a male and female student from the Sunderland area who, at the end of their penultimate year of study have demonstrated an excellent academic record and are on track to secure a First Class Honours Degree or upper Second Class Honours Degree.

Award-winning student Robin Watson, from Plains Farm in Sunderland, says: “The scholarship will help me focus all of my time on my course, as I will not have to work part-time to fund myself.

“I’ve always wanted to become an engineer because I have a keen interest in learning how things work, and trying to improve and develop things.”

Robin just completed his placement year working at Northern Aerospace in Consett as a Manufacturing Engineer, and is now looking forward to graduating in 2018.

He added: “I would really like to work on projects that would improve and make a difference to people’s lives.”

Alex Bowey, from High Barnes, has been able to quit her part-time job and volunteer one day a week in a local primary school, thanks to the Scholarship. “I am helping out at an after school club too,” adds Alex, “The money has given me the freedom to gain some invaluable classroom experience.”

Alex was inspired to take up teaching by her mother, Joanne, who graduated from the University of Sunderland with a degree in Early Childhood Studies in 2006, and now teaches at St Mary’s Meadowside School in Sunderland.

“Teaching is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s something that I’ve aspired to from seeing the job satisfaction and pleasure my mam gets from such a rewarding career.”

David Gray, FRICS, Chairman of Trustees of The Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust, said: “The scholarship is very much in the spirit of Sir Tom, his ethos of hard work from humble beginnings, and it represents our commitment to the values of the University of Sunderland.

“This scholarship rewards Robin and Alex’s efforts and hard work over the course of their degree, which I’ve been incredibly impressed with.”

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