Some of the brightest young minds with links to the Ashburton district were awarded 32 scholarships worth $88,000 on Tuesday night.
The Advance Ashburton Charitable Foundation hands out scholarships and grants to students and apprentices studying at home or in cities around New Zealand, hoping they will one day return to give back to their home town.
The biggest scholarship of the night, the Neil Sinclair Memorial Scholarship, went to Mikaeli Lalor, who is about to enter her sixth year of study at the University of Otago. She is studying towards a masters in science, specialising in geology.
The Methven woman was head girl at Mount Hutt College in 2015 and graduated from the university with a major in geology and minors in anthropology and geography.
She is now researching common climate risks and wants to be part of a movement that protects both people and the environment.
The memorial scholarship was presented by Mr Sinclair’s wife Jeanette and his granddaughter Ella. Mr Sinclair founded the charitable foundation in 2003 and over the years it has given out 245 scholarships worth a combined $500,000.
The foundation works by encouraging people to give money that is invested, with the interest earned creating scholarships and grants for people and groups with Mid Canterbury interests.
It has around $14 million invested and another $40m pledged in future years; the foundation has given out about $5m.
Chair Mary Ross said she was impressed by the 2021 recipients and hoped that one day they might return to Mid Canterbury to benefit the community that was helping them. Some are already working here as apprentices.
One health scholarship recipient hoping to return is Rebecca Robinson, who studied nursing at Otago and is now aiming for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. She hopes to be selected for the Ashburton Rural Medical Programme that runs from Ashburton Hospital and is funded $190,000 annually by Advance Ashburton.
Advance Ashburton executive officer Sandi Wood said the foundation was indebted to the people who had given large and small amounts to be invested, or who contributed regularly through wages.
Among the donors who shared the stage with the students they were helping were brothers Alan and Bob Johnston, who have given 27 health scholarships over the years.
Their philanthropy was unparalleled in the district, she said.
Scholarship recipients were:
Ariana Tipu and Aidan Campbell (Alister Smyth fund). Neil Alombro (Glass family trust fund). Josh Jones (Tinwald Club fund). Roman Prazac (Ashburton Plains Rotary Club). Debbie Thomson, Hamish Begg, Phillip Whiting, Sam Bubb, Samantha Tuck (Jaycee industry fund); Kate O’Reilly and Travis Stringer (Jaycee Outward Bound fund).
Grace Leahy (Walter and Heather van der Kley fund). Aimee Elliott (Brian and Norma Cameron fund). Ben McLeod and Kate Donald (Parsons Family trust). Ellen Donaldson and Toby Lee (Ian Glassey fund). Caitlin Johnstone, Hannah Wakelin, Kelsey Campbell, Lucy Clough, Rebecca Robinson, Taylor Gallagher (Bob and Alan Johnston). Ainsley Braam-Smith, Diana Barbu, Jemma Donnelly, Scott Kelland (Ashburton United Friendly Dispensary Society).
Jaffar Nuru (Ashburton Hearing Association). Jack Bubb (Graham Gunn fund). Matthew Clough (Advance Ashburton community fund). Mikaeli Lalor (Neil Sinclair Memorial Fund).