R&A scholarship gives ability to learn about disability

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Vice-Principal (Governance and Planning) Professor Ron Piper, Chairman of The R&A Foundation Hamish Ritchie, Shelley Talbot and Director of Development Robert Fleming. (Photo credit: Lightbox Creative.)

Vice-Principal (Governance and Planning) Professor Ron Piper, Chairman of The R&A Foundation Hamish Ritchie, Shelley Talbot and Director of Development Robert Fleming.
Photo credit: Lightbox Creative.

Third-year Philosophy and International Relations student Shelley Talbot has been selected as the first St Andrews student to benefit from a new, international scholarship fund generously gifted by The R&A, the body responsible for administering the Rules of Golf.

Twenty-two year-old Shelley, originally from Leamington, plans to use her £12,000 award to travel the Far East, America and Europe for a year, volunteering at various local community projects helping physically and mentally disabled people. Her aim is to find out about experiences of disability in different cultures, and to provide the experience to inform postgraduate study of disability and social policy.

The R&A International Scholarship has been set up to encourage students to broaden their minds in new, challenging and imaginative environments by funding international travel for undergraduates or recent graduates.

Shelley said:

“I was so excited to receive The R&A International Scholarship; I didn’t expect to have the chance to travel and volunteer for a year. Being the first recipient means I’m even more excited, as I’m setting the standard for future students, and I hope I’m up to the challenge!

“I’m planning to combine travel and volunteering, working with people with disabilities in different projects in different countries. I can’t wait to find out how the experience of disability differs in different cultures, and how services differ accordingly. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity I feel extremely lucky to have been selected.”

The award was made possible by a £500,000 gift from The R&A to be invested in an endowment fund which provides travel, accommodation and subsistence for students who demonstrate not only academic excellence, but also a desire and ability to learn from and interact with different cultures. The scholarship is particularly targeted at students who have demonstrated good people skills and a community-minded approach to life in St Andrews, and who would otherwise be unable to fund international travel and study.

Shelley first became interested in disability when she volunteered as a full-time carer for a student at Lancaster University. She then came to St Andrews to study and started volunteering in Fife. In her time at St Andrews Shelley has worked with Enable (a club for adults with learning difficulties) and includeMe (citizen advocacy for people with learning difficulties), as well as being appointed Convenor of the St Andrews Student Voluntary Service, which works with over twenty partners in the local community to provide students with opportunities to volunteer on a wide range of projects supporting vulnerable groups. Through this service Shelley has helped to place over 200 volunteers throughout North East Fife.

Alex Davidson of includeMe said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shelley so much for all the help and support she has given includeMe! since she first contacted us to become an advocate. Shelley’s value as a Citizen Advocate has been re-inforced by her very strong concept of what is right and wrong – her principle of justice as far as vulnerable adults are concerned – and, whenever within her power, the fact that she will not allow anyone to be treated ‘differently’.”

Vice-Principal (Governance and Planning) Professor Ron Piper said:

“Congratulations to Shelley who I am confident will be an excellent ambassador for St Andrews on her travels. She has set a wonderful example and is evidence of the opportunities that can be created by taking a community-minded approach to life in the town. Many thanks to The R&A for making Shelley’s great adventure possible, and helping St Andrews students to achieve a global perspective.”

Hamish Ritchie, Chairman of The R&A Foundation, said:

“The R&A is delighted that the scholarship has been awarded to Shelley. We wish her every success in her travels next year and in her future career. The University and The R&A are a major part of the fabric of St Andrews and it is exciting to be working together on this scholarship programme which will help students broaden their horizons and make their way in the world.”

Notes to News Editors

Based in St Andrews, The R&A organises The Open Championship, major amateur events and international matches. Together with the United States Golf Association, The R&A governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The R&A’s working jurisdiction is global, excluding the United States and Mexico.

The R&A is committed to working for golf and supports the growth of the game internationally and the development and management of sustainable golf facilities. The R&A operates with the consent of 149 organisations from the amateur and professional game and on behalf of over thirty million golfers in 135 countries.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office. Contact Emma Shea on 01334 462167 or email [email protected]

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