The Mark Dower Trust
The Mark Dower Trust is a financial grant that aims to support young people with ataxia who are seeking independence, through further studies, employment, specialist equipment or hobbies/ skills.
About Mark Dower
The Mark Dower Trust was recently set up in memory of Mark, who sadly passed away in 2003, aged 41. Mark had FA and was fiercely independent and driven, truly living his life to the full. Though he loved his family and his home he wanted the same autonomy which other young people yearn for; the ability to make his own choices and to have his own space. The Mark Dower Trust aims to help similarly independent young people who have been diagnosed with ataxia to develop and enjoy hobbies and activities or to enhance their skills through further education.
Mark enjoyed painting and drawing as well as writing poetry. At the age of 19, he heard about an opportunity to live in a house away from home and to attend college with other creative young people. He set about getting involved. When the local authority rejected his application for funding, Mark responded by conducting a 'sit-in' at the council offices, staying put all day until the officers agreed to review their decision. He won his fight and spent an incredible few years making life-long friendships, writing a book of poetry as well as beginning his autobiography. Whilst there, he learnt new painting techniques and held several exhibitions, selling his work to the public.
About the Mark Dower Trust
Inspired by Mark's independent spirit and appetite to try new things, The Mark Dower Trust offers a small annual grant of up to £3,000 to share among each year's awardees. The aim is to support young people by enabling them to pursue skills, hobbies or further educational opportunities and hence allow them to maximise their independence.
Applications for 2021/22 open in November 2021. Applicants must be between the ages of 16-30, have ataxia and reside in the UK.
Take a look at the dedicated Mark Dower Trust Website for further details.
Top tips for a good application:
- Be clear what you want to use the grant for. For example, if you want to purchase equipment then give the website link and state why the particular model or choice is best for your needs.
- If you want to use the grant to pay towards training or fees for a course then be clear which course/when/where and what the costs are.
- If you are able to contribute part of the cost of the item yourself through money you have obtained through other sources (fundraising etc) then explain this.
- Explain how the grant will benefit you; what will you learn and how will this help you?
- Demonstrate your passion and commitment to the area of interest; what have you already achieved that is relevant? How long have you been involved and how much of your time do you commit to it?
Mark Dower Testimonials
Mark Dower Trust: Grace Maries
I approached the Mark Dower Trust with the intent to get myself back into experiencing new places as a wheelchair user. I am stubbornly independent and wanted to reduce fatigue but manage further distance as I love walks in nature and travelling whilst doing my part for the environment. The Mark Dower Trust granted me 25% of all costs in 2020. However, with coronavirus locking us inside, I realised I needed something different to what I originally had in mind.
With government restrictions allowing disability wellbeing to continue, I could still explore my options and the Mark Dower Trust was happy for me to change my decision and still awarded me 25% support funding. I am so grateful for this flexibility as I was able to have a whole new perspective on what would benefit me more.
The Batec Mini couldn’t have come at a better time; granted it was delayed a few months from trial to delivery, but I'd have rather not have had it sitting in my hallway as a temptation out of shielding!
It has been worth the wait and the Mark Dower Trust, along with Ataxia UK, have been super encouraging to get the correct device to assist my needs and create new horizons, even if popping to the shops to get some milk is all that is needed that day!
I have been having fun with it and in the sunny weather it's been a dream!
Mark Dower Trust: Victoria Ashdown
My story is a little different from others, I wish to train to be an art therapist, to get qualified you must complete a master’s degree.
The chances of being accepted onto this course are increased if someone undertakes a university certificate in Arts therapies and Wellbeing. This university certificate is a one-year introduction where more insight is gained about what art therapy is and also about its uses. This certificate had to be self-funded as it is not eligible for any student financial support. I applied to the Mark Dower Trust to see if they would contribute towards this cost.
The application was really open, and I was given the opportunity to state why the money would be beneficial to (hopefully) what will be my future career.
Because I was asking for money for education and not commodities, I was unsure if my application would go any further but the people behind the Mark Dower Trust were great and a way to pay the university directly was found.
I would recommend anyone else to apply for the grant, as even a little pot of money can be so beneficial. Mark Dower Trust is a charity who are friendly and genuinely interested in how they can best help.