A student from Salisbury is the first person to have been offered a place at Rose Bruford College in Sidcup to study acting following the award of a bursary set up in memory of Dawn Sturgess who died in 2018 after coming into contact with the Novichok nerve agent.
The Dawn Sturgess Bursary was offered by the leading London-based production company, Dancing Ledge Productions in partnership with Wiltshire Creative and Dawn’s parents. The student will receive £10,000 a year (with a ceiling of £30,000) that will go towards their living costs while they are studying.
The student, Cassia, said: “This bursary means I can breathe easy in a way I didn’t think possible. Before being offered the bursary, I didn’t realise how much the stress of costs was clouding and tainting my feelings around drama school. Now, I can allow myself to feel excited; I can think and plan, knowing I’ll be able to get the most out of my training.”
The eponymous bursary was set up in memory of the Amesbury resident to help young creative people from the area achieve their full potential. The bursary is open to permanent Wiltshire residents aged between 18 and 25-years-old who have accepted an offer to attend a full-time acting course being taught in a UK drama school. Applications for the bursary were handled by Wiltshire Creative.
Louise Dancy, Wiltshire Creative’s Take Part director said: “We are passionate about championing local talent, and equal access to opportunities which are sadly unattainable for so many. The events surrounding the Novichok attack in 2018 are still very much present in the hearts and minds of those in Salisbury and across Wiltshire so it is fitting that we can honour the memory of Dawn Sturgess in this way.”
The public health crisis and criminal investigation following the Novichok incidents were the subjects of the drama series The Salisbury Poisonings, which was Dancing Ledge’s first drama based on first-hand accounts and interviews with people caught up in tragedy. The company, which has a proven track record of supporting emerging talent was honoured to be approached by Dawn’s father.
“Nurturing emerging talent is at the core of what we do at Dancing Ledge and it is a great honour to provide this in Dawn’s name,” said Dancing Ledge Productions CEO, Laurence Bowen. “We are proud and excited to champion talent from her home county, and we are thrilled to be able to support the beneficiaries that have been selected. Working with Wiltshire Creative to find suitable recipients has been a rewarding experience and we look forward to what the future brings for these talented individuals.”
Two further students in Wiltshire were awarded living costs of £2,500 as part of the bursary award. Stan Sturgess, Dawn’s father, said: “With the uncertainty of the cost of living, the timing of this news couldn’t be more welcome and to know that not only one young aspiring actor, but three students, will benefit from this Bursary set up in Dawn’s name is just wonderful. Helping them to be able to study and follow their dreams is something that I know Dawn would be very proud of.”