A range of new bursaries is allowing more people to pursue their dream careers at the world-renowned Boat Building Academy (BBA).
The BBA in Lyme Regis, Dorset, is now offering bursaries covering up to 50 per cent of course fees, with up to 100 per cent covered where the need is greater.
The new funding has been made possible due to the BBA achieving charitable status in 2020, and subsequent fundraising and applications to foundations and trusts.
Bursaries are available for all BBA courses including the 12-week furniture course starting in January 2024 and the 40-week boat building course starting in February 2024.
A bursary for women aims to assist female students in furniture and boat building and extinguish the stigma around women in practical skills industries.
Funding is also available for short courses and even taster days.
Janie Harper, Wendy Stephenson and Jill Booth are already using bursary funding to study under expert tutors on the academy’s full time, 12-week furniture course.
Janie, 34, from Devon, said: “I was made redundant from my corporate role and set about building a tiny home and renovating a van. Then I heard about the BBA’s bursaries for local people.
“Making an actual living from making furniture has always been something I thought was out of reach until now, but with the bursary and the time to study I can finally hone my skills with an expert tutor. It’s amazing to be here.”
Jill Booth, 50 and from Wareham in Dorset said: “I came for an interview and was accepted onto the course with funding. I was absolutely stunned.
“I never would have been able to even consider doing this without a bursary. It’s a chance to make a lifestyle change that I would never have had and I’m so grateful.”
Wendy, 56, from Taunton in Somerset said the bursary has taken her out from behind a desk and one step closer to the career she has always dreamed of: “When I learned I had been accepted and given a bursary I burst into tears.
“The course is completely immersive, and we are learning so much. For me it’s like being reborn.
“I have always worked for big companies and been tied to a desk.
“This is realistically my last chance to do something I’m really passionate about, working with wood, and making things – and I’m hoping to go on and study for a diploma. It’s just so great to feel the academy has faith in you and wants to help you succeed.”
BBA Director Will Reed said: “Although some students receive grants from the likes of City & Guilds, most rely on their savings, and for some people taking a course is an unattainable dream.
“One of our primary objectives has always been to be able to offer assisted places to extremely committed applicants who would not otherwise be able to attend our courses and fundraising and the support of foundations and trusts is now letting us achieve that.
“We are thrilled to be turning dreams into reality through the bursary programme and hope more people will come forward to see what we can offer them.”