Three benefactors have teamed up with the University of Bolton to fund the £150,000 cost of propelling three disadvantaged youngsters into the exciting world of Formula One.
Vijay Mallya, the former team principal of the Force India F1 team and Bob Fernley, his former deputy, have formed an alliance with Jonathan Kendrick, a keen sponsor in Formula One and other motor racing series, and the University to see three students through their three-year course at Bolton's renowned National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME).
The Northern Powerhouse STEM Scholarships will enable the students to enjoy a free education at the NCME from September, 2021.
Fernley, Mallya and Kendrick have worked at the highest level in motor racing, but became acutely aware of the lack of diversity and opportunities for disadvantaged youngsters in a sport famed for its costs and Lewis Hamilton, the seven-times Formula One world champion, has often spoken of his wish for more diversity at the top level in motorsport.
The Bolton benefactors worry that the costs of attending university may deter even the brightest and most enthusiastic youngsters and have co-operated with the University of Bolton, which will waive fees for the three chosen students, to seek out the talent of tomorrow.
The benefactors have lent their corporate names to the following bursaries:
Bob Fernley, a motor racing veteran with 40 years of experience, who has run teams on both sides of the Atlantic in F1, CanAm and IndyCar, said the scholarships were "fantastic news", and has loaned two Formula One cars and an IndyCar that competed in the United States to the University to form a chassis preparation concourse he hopes will inspire a new generation of engineers and mechanics to work in a sport dominated by British ingenuity.
"We are extremely grateful to the benefactors and the University of Bolton, which has waived frees to make these scholarship degree courses possible. These scholarships will help us to achieve our aim of enabling students from disadvantaged backgrounds secure employment in the motorsport or related engineering industries.
"I believe there is still a north/south divide in terms of opportunity and hope this goes some way to address that disparity.
"There is talent out there that simply needs the chance. I was lucky to go from a council house in Stockport to Formula One race tracks all over the world and I want a new generation to have that opportunity.
"As part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, the University is providing a comprehensive motorsports engineering experience that is one of the best in any university in the country, offering an amazing opportunity for youngsters and enabling kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain hands-on experience in what is often seen as an elitist sport."
Mark Busfield, Director of NCME, who pioneered the course in 2017 at the University of Bolton with a dedicated team of Industry and academic specialists, said: "We want to give a helping hand to young people who have the drive and enthusiasm for motorsport engineering to get the best education involving top experts from the industry.
"We want to give hope to people that however difficult their circumstances they do have the opportunity to succeed in the field they are passionate about.
"I would also like to say a big thank you to Bob for his support, the generous use of his race cars, and passion which is giving our students the most amazing opportunities and experience."
The scholarships will enable course fees to be waived for all three years of the degree programme and to cover the costs of student accommodation, as well as a subsistence allowance, which could work out to be at least £150,000.
Applicants will need to have achieved the required exam results, and is limited to full-time UK students only, who will be required to submit a personal statement of 500 words. A shortlist will be drawn up and applicants then interviewed to identify the three successful scholarship candidates.
Professor George E Holmes DL, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: "The University of Bolton understands the role that education takes in helping social mobility, which is an absolutely critical part of the Northern Powerhouse strategy.
"I want to thank everyone involved in making these scholarships a reality. They will provide life-changing opportunities for three young people and help to launch them into a successful future."
Jonathan Kendrick, co-founder and chairman of the ROKiT Group of Companies and sponsor of the NCME's 'Fast Track to Formula One' programme, grew up on a council estate in Wolverhampton, suffered from dyslexia and was expelled from school aged just 15. He found work with Goodyear Racing as a tyre engineer in Formula One and then launched himself as an entrepreneur, most recently founding ROKiT, which now has businesses around the world including mobile phones, a drinks group and content and technology companies.
He said: "We are proud to be offering a scholarship for a student to study motorsport engineering at the University of Bolton. This is a time when young people from the most challenging backgrounds need more opportunities to grow and develop and we are delighted to be able to help the University provide that."
Dr Vijay Mallya, co-owner of the Force India Formula One Team from 2007 to 2018 and Chairman of Kingfisher Beer Europe Ltd, said: "The University of Bolton runs a very impressive motorsport engineering programme and it is a great honour to be able to help a student from a diverse background to have this amazing opportunity."
To find out more about the Northern Powerhouse STEM Scholarships, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, using the reference 'NPSTEM Scholarships' in the email subject field.