Sport

Lord Lieutenant and Superior Seals-backed fund opens for applications

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: February 21, 2024 | Updated: 21st February 2024

Dorset Community Foundation’s Young and Talented Fund has opened for applications.

Dorset Community Foundation logo

The Lord Lieutenant’s Fund for Young and Talented, which is also supported by Wimborne engineering company Superior Seals, awards grants of up to £1,000 towards costs that might prevent youngsters from making the most of their natural ability.

This could include buying kit and clothing or helping to cover the cost of competition entry fees, coaching, travel and accommodation.

In the eight years the fund has been running so far it has awarded nearly £50,000 to 60 young people, including Olympic 100m butterfly swimmer Jacob Peters from Poole, who was a recipient early in his career.

Applications are open from February 26 to April 5 and applicants must be aged 14 to 21, have a home address in Dorset and an exceptional sporting talent which has been recognised or acknowledged by the appropriate national governing body or equivalent.

They must be also able to demonstrate that they are unable to achieve their ambitions without help due to financial or personal circumstance.

Last year the fund, set up with the foundation by Dorset Lord-Lieutenant Angus Campbell, awarded £9,400 worth of grants to 13 young people. Among them was Rower Matas Volungevicius, 17, of Bournemouth, who used his £1,000 grant to buy more equipment, including a rowing machine so he can train at home.

The extra training paid off with a creditable 13th place over 2,000 metres at the British Rowing Championships. “That was my first proper race against really strong competitors and strong people,” said Matas, who wants to represent Great Britain one day. “I was the smallest guy there so I was really pleased with how I did.”

The sport and fitness student at Brockenhurst College, said his mum Brigita has borrowed money in the past to cover the costs of competing with Christchurch Rowing Club.

“Without the grant I could never have afforded the rowing machine,” he said. “As soon as I got it I was able to train whenever I wanted and everything has improved as a result – my endurance, my power and my speed. It has really helped me.”

Rising golf star Honor Johnson used her £1,000 grant to cover entry fees, travel and accommodation as she bids to build up her growing reputation.

The 16-year-old Queen Elizabeth School student from Sturminster Newton has her eye on a university golf scholarship in the US after her A-levels but in the meantime she will be captain of Dorset U18s girls this year and playing as many tournaments as she can.

Honor Johnson

Last season Honor, who plays at Broadstone Golf Club near Poole, won the South West Regional Schools Championship and did creditably in the national finals.

She said the grant means she can enter more tournaments and continue to develop her game. “All the big tournaments seem to be up in the north, which is a long way to travel so the grant’s really helped with that aspect,” said Honor, who has set her sights on turning professional.

“The grant really helps with the entry fees and food when we’re up there. Also I’ve just been for a fitting for new clubs so the grant really helps towards things like that. Having this grant really takes some of the financial stress off my parents and without it I’d be having to cut back on the number I play.”

Dorset Community Foundation Chief Executive Grant Robson said: “Thanks to the support of Angus, the Lord-Lieutenant, and Superior Seals, this fund has been able to open the door to some incredibly talented young people to better coaching, more competitive opportunities and wider recognition.

“We are really looking forward to meeting the next generation of sporting talent and helping them break through the financial barriers that are holding them back.”

Full details of eligibility and how to apply can be found at dorsetcommunityfoundation.org funds/lord-lieutenants-fund-young-talented/.

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