Foundation for mature students winds down

A life changing experience . . . Catherine Borthwick is disappointed The Norman Jones Foundation which funded her life changing outward bound course over 20 years ago is no more.

A life-changing fund to give mature students a chance at education has been wound up.

The Norman Jones Foundation was established in 1988 to commemorate the Southland politician who died in 1987 from a brain tumour.

The late MP first stood for Parliament at a by-election in 1945 and contested seven elections before being elected in 1975 as the National candidate for Invercargill. He remained in Parliament until shortly before his death in 1987.

Foundation chairwoman Ailsa Smaill said her uncle had to retrain after the war when he was medevacked home after losing a leg from tank-fire.

‘‘He appreciated the need for training after his experiences of training after the war.’’

The foundation had supported about 1305 mature students who had to be over the age of 25 to access the grant.

‘‘Single mums that could not afford to study but really wanted to do it so they could be role models for their children.

‘‘Grants went towards childcare, books, funding at different levels.

‘‘It was inspiring to hear stories of how people picked themselves up. ‘‘The foundation was about giving people an opportunity to extend themselves,’’ Mrs Smaill said.

‘‘My uncle used to say people must be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities.

‘‘If you want to get on in life and be your own boss, become a plumber.

‘‘People will always need plumbers and your van is your office.’’

One of those who had benefited from the fund was Gore resident Catherine Borthwick.

A $1200 Outward Bound course funded by the foundation in 1999 ‘‘changed my life in a million different ways and still does every day’’.

‘‘The course gave me confidence not to be too scared.

‘‘In my late 50s I bought a cafe.

‘‘The course gave me the confidence that I could make that leap. I am a bit disappointed to hear the fund is being wound up.

‘‘It was a gift,’’ she said.

The foundation, which had been funded by various community grants, is being wound up because of a lack of funds. The last of its grants was given out this year.

The total amount given by the foundation came to $841,227.