08 May 2008

Students benefit from £100,000 donation

A new scholarship fund has been established at the University of Sheffield thanks to a £100,000 donation. The Dainton family has generously donated the money, which will assist talented students who suffer financial hardship, in memory of the University’s former Chancellor, Lord Dainton.

Six scholarships will be awarded annually to talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The scholarships are worth £2,000 each and will be awarded to students who, without extra help, might have been unable to study at the University of Sheffield.

Students Sam Coveney, 18, and Joy French, 20, will be the first to benefit from the Dainton Scholarships. Sam is studying theoretical physics, with the aim of becoming a physics teacher. Joy is planning to follow a career in research after her biology degree.

Frederick Dainton was born in Sheffield in 1914. The son of a master stonemason, he attended Hunter’s Bar Infant School and Greystones Elementary School, before going to the Central Secondary School for Boys (now High Storrs), which was located in Sheffield’s city centre. He went on to gain a first-class degree in Chemistry from Oxford University, thanks to a scholarship. In the course of a remarkable career he rose to become Professor of Chemistry at both Leeds and Oxford Universities, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, Chairman of the University Grants Committee and finally Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.

Nearly 60,000 students received their degrees from Lord Dainton during his tenure as Chancellor between 1978 and 1997. He loved meeting students and introduced the Chancellor’s Medal to reward outstanding achievement within the University community. In recognition of his tremendous support for the institution, the University’s Chemistry building was named after him in 1993.

He was knighted in 1971 and became a life peer in 1986. The recipient of 26 honorary degrees, including one from the University of Sheffield in 1979, he also presided over the degree ceremony at which Lady Dainton, herself a significant scientist, received an honorary degree in 1992.

In later life, as chairman of the British Library Board, he persuaded Mrs Thatcher to authorise construction of the new £500 million building for the British Library at St Pancras. He died in 1997, just as the library opened its doors to the public.

Lord Dainton never lost touch with his roots and always spoke with affection about his family and his upbringing in a Sheffield terraced house. Lady Dainton said, “I am both proud and happy to have been able to fund the Dainton Scholarships in memory of Fred.”

Miles Stevenson, Director of Development at the University of Sheffield, said, “I am delighted by the support and interest that Lady Dainton and her family have demonstrated by this generous donation. Their £100,000 endowment will ensure that we continue to award six annual Dainton Scholarships, each of which supports a student during their undergraduate degree. This is a tremendous boost to our scholarship programme.”

Joy French, who is originally from Shrewsbury, said, “The donations are not only a great financial help but the warm wishes that come with the scholarship make me feel part of a community. I am really thankful for the support and I hope that one day I can do the same for someone else.”

Sam Coveney, from Folkestone in Kent, added, “Since secondary school I have wanted to teach physics. I was inspired by my physics teachers and I want to be able to inspire others myself. In the future, I intend to pass on the opportunities I have been given, in the form of both inspiration and donations back to the University, so that someone else may receive the extra help I have received.”