One of the Cokethorpe Society’s main objectives has always been to support projects within the School for the benefit of present and future generations of students.
Having taken so much from their time at Cokethorpe, Old Cokethorpeans are often passionate about giving something back to and supporting the next Cokethorpe cohort.
To this end, in 2007, the Cokethorpe Society founded the highly successful Travel Bursary Award initiative as a means of offering students financial assistance should they decide to embark on a Gap Year. Each year a proportion of Cokethorpe leavers choose to opt to travel before going to university.
The Travel Bursary is not, however, exclusively available to those who wish to spend time abroad, it is more generally designed to support students who are passionate about furthering their personal development. This extends to those thinking about enrolling on a course, or volunteering with a charity to help those less fortunate than themselves.
In keeping with the spirit of the scheme, many of those who are granted an award return to Cokethorpe after their Gap Year, to offer advice and give a presentation about their experiences to the subsequent group of Sixth Formers.
During the Summer Term the Cokethorpe Society invites applications from students entering the Upper Sixth who would like to apply for an award. After careful consideration, selected students are then asked to come for an interview with the Headmaster and Mr Baker, the Chairman of the Cokethorpe Society, where they are encouraged to elaborate on and discuss their Gap Year plans. On average two or three awards are made each academic year.
Tilly Johnson (OC 2013, Swift) – Six Months with a Sports Charity, Macedonia
'Having decided I was going to take a Gap Year after my A Levels, I took the opportunity to work with a sports charity for six months. One of the highlights was going to Macedonia and working alongside orphans and a Roma community. It was such a good experience. The team and I were able to use sport to interact with people from a different culture and we all learnt something about ourselves whilst we were there. I applied for a Travel Bursary from Cokethorpe in order to do this and it was a straight forward process. I am extremely grateful for the support that I was given from the School. I would highly recommend a Gap Year and would also recommend looking into the School’s Travel Bursary Award scheme.’
Tilly Johnson (OC 2013, Swift)
Lucy Grout (OC 2013, Feilden) – Volunteer Work, Thailand and Australia
‘The Bursary was really helpful as it allowed me to put a deposit down on a trip I had been looking into for a while. I travelled around Thailand as part of my Gap Year and met so many amazing people. I can safely say it was the best trip of my life! The highlight of the trip was volunteering in a school, which was more like a shack, made completely of bamboo. The school is also used as a communal area for a tribal group living not far from the Burmese border in the Sangkhlaburi district in Thailand. The children, aged from 6 months to 15 years old, are not guaranteed an education so going in to teach even the simplest of things was so rewarding. After travelling around Thailand I hopped on a plane to Australia and travelled on my own for a month. On both trips I feel I gained so much independence and confidence and would strongly urge any student at Cokethorpe to consider having a year out. Having some time to work, gain life experience and see some incredible things has been invaluable to me and I would like to thank Cokethorpe for giving me that opportunity.’
Lucy Grout (OC 2013, Feilden)
Henry Ettinger (OC 2012, Harcourt) – Seven Months with The Nasio Trust, Kenya
‘For the past seven months, I have enjoyed working for The Nasio Trust, a charity that runs two purpose-built daycare centres in western Kenya – Noah’s Ark and St Irene’s. The centres work with the local community to provide education, meals, medical care and support to impoverished children, many living with HIV. Based in Musanda, a small village outside Mumias, I was given responsibility for teaching IT and coaching sport. I have made great friends and hope very much to return. This was an experience I would recommend to anyone considering a break away from the books and the English climate! A video from my time there is available to watch below.'
Henry Ettinger (OC 2012, Harcourt)
Charlotte Swan (OC 2012, Queen Anne) - Volunteer Work, Thailand
'I spent my gap year teaching English at Thai University. It was one of the best experiences of my life; living in such a geographically diverse and beautiful country, home to the most genuine, generous and respectful people I have ever met. The traditional, family focused culture, so different from our modern world, really affected me and made me reflect on the values in the Western World. From teaching students, visiting hill tribes, watching Festivals of Light and Water, riding elephants, cuddling with tigers, encounters with monks and Buddhist experiences to just enjoying the beaches and jungles around me, Thailand had it all. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, and for my travel bursary, and would definitely recommend going travelling to everyone!'
Charlotte Swan (OC 2012, Queen Anne)
Charlie Bartlett (OC 2008, Feilden) – Volunteer Work, South Africa
‘In January 2007 I decided that I wanted to go to South Africa where I planned to obtain life-guarding and surfing instructor qualifications and work at a local orphanage. In order to fund the trip I had to work hard and save, save, save! I was made aware of the Travel Bursary Awards and jumped at the opportunity of help. I used the interview as a chance to explain that this wasn’t just a ‘jolly’ but an adventure which would teach me important skills while allowing me to help people less fortunate. I achieved all I set out to whilst in South Africa and would urge any Sixth Former to apply.’
Charlie Bartlett (OC 2008, Feilden)
Emily Landon (OC 2008, Harcourt) – Volunteer Work, Thailand
‘I applied for the Travel Bursary Award as I was planning to go to Thailand for six weeks during my Gap Year. Throughout the six weeks, I intended to travel around the country and to teach English to children between the ages of 6 and 11. The money I received from the Cokethorpe Society helped to fund this experience and I would recommend applying for the award to anyone; even if it’s just a small sum of money, a little can go a long way. The money that I received allowed me to experience amazing things that you would never experience normally!’
Emily Landon (OC 2008, Harcourt)
James Winkley (OC 2008, Gascoigne) – Oundle Organ Course
'I decided to apply to the Cokethorpe Society for a Bursary Award in the hope that it would help subsidise some of the cost for a place on the Oundle Organ Course. The course was hugely beneficial as I was taught various new disciplines such as improvisation, score reading and transposition; skills which have proved most helpful during my time as an organ scholar at Durham. In addition to this, it helped to develop my technique and knowledge of stylistic performance which has been valuable.’
James Winkley (OC 2008, Gascoigne)