The Impact of your Support for the Covid-19 Appeal

In July 2020, Sir Thomas Allen asked you to help our students affected by the pandemic. Your response was immediate and generous, and here we're sharing stories of the impact you've made. 

In around six weeks, you donated an incredible total of £75,000 in 207 individual gifts. We added some existing philanthropic funds donated for student support to the pot, and altogether this gave us £300,000 to distribute to students.

A third of it is set aside to support research, and the remaining £200,000 has been used to respond to students in urgent financial need and to help the Class of 2020 as they entered an extremely difficult jobs market. The students you have helped include key workers and their dependants. What a remarkable thing you have done; thank you. In total, we have been able to help 400 students with hardship grants and a further 43 with Career Development awards. We've received some really lovely stories from students for whom your kindness has been an invaluable support, some of which are shared here, but first Sir Tom wants to offer you his personal thanks:

You supported the Appeal for lots of reasons

Alumni and friends reached out to help for many reasons. Some of you have children of your own at Durham, others felt compassion for students in such extraordinary circumstances, and some of you have been good friends to us for many years.

Katherine Garrett-Cox (St Mary's College, History, 1989) wrote:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenge, hardship, isolation and a deep sense of loss to our entire society, but most critically to our younger generation. As Durham alumni and current parents, Jeremy and I have been delighted to support the Covid Appeal over the past year, to allow those most affected to have access to the opportunities that they deserve and have worked so tirelessly for."

The Newcastle-based Adderstone Group donated via its Foundation and commented:

"The Trustees were honoured to support one of the North East's most exceptional organisations."

Santander Universities UK donated £25,000, on top of their existing six figure pledge of support to Durham.  Director, Matthew Hutnell commented:

Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK so we’re pleased that our funding is able to give support to where it is most needed at this critical time. Universities are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to collaborate with our university partners in a way which increases their response effort and look forward to continuing to work with them on supporting both students and the broader higher education community with further initiatives over the coming months."

The majority of gifts came from individual members of our alumni community; people like Alison Bromley (St Aidan's, History, 1976).

"I decided to send the donation because I feel very conscious of my own good fortune in so many ways, especially having been able to study at Durham in the 1970s when finances were arranged so that we had enough to pay college bills and sustain us through each term.  I feel very strongly that it is important to help current and future students to attend Durham so that they can benefit from what it has to offer and then use this to succeed in whatever path each graduate chooses to follow."

You're helping our students in many ways

The loss overnight of part-time work meant real hardship for many students, facing the same bills but without the cash to pay them.  Others were faced with unexpected family commitments, travel costs, or having to buy laptops so they could study remotely.  Similarly, our graduating students last year found themselves in a very different jobs market and needing to explore additional training or education to improve their employability.  We've received numerous comments from students who feel enormous gratitude for the support you gave to the Appeal; here are some quotations from the feedback we've had,

Jude Hanlon (Josephine Butler, Psychology, 2022), spoke for many when he told us,

"To those who have supported students through providing Covid-19 recovery funds, I want to say a huge thank you. Your support has been hugely appreciated on a practical and community level. I am thankful to those who provided the funds I have been awarded, which have allowed me the practical capability, mental energy, and lower stress levels that would have been severely impacted by the pandemic if not for the fund. I am incredibly grateful, thank you."

The appeal helped students like William Thomson (Van Mildert College, Geography, 2020) secure employment,

"I completed a project management qualification in October with funding from the appeal. I just got offered a 6 month placement at an IT firm as a web developer, until the start of my masters, and the project management qualification I did definitely helped me in my interview and ultimately helped me secure the job."

We will always be grateful

This past year has been like no other at Durham and there are undoubtedly more challenges to come, but the way the alumni community responded in 2020 to our call for help not only gave us the means to support our students, but also the encouragement to keep going and to keep delivering the world-class education and research for which Durham is known. As Ms Garrett-Cox concluded in her note:

"We all have a responsibility to support and invest in the next generation, to allow them to rebuild hope after a year of extreme adversity whilst ensuring that no one is left behind."

Sam Whelan"Thanks to your generosity I haven’t been under pressure to make ends meet and I have no doubt this will propel me to achieve the grades I need to start working as a graduate civil engineer this summer."

Sam Whelan, St Cuthbert’s College, 4th year Engineering 

Magdalena Kolomaznikova

"Over the summer, I had been really worried about my family being able to support me this academic year and receiving this Fund helped to ease my worries." 

Magdelana Kolomaznikova, Josephine Butler, 3rd Year History


Pandemic Students
"We have had two children at Durham and they have been supported not only by us but also by their grandparents.  We know that some students have no family financial support and that even the full maintenance grant is not enough to enable them to enjoy university without money worries.  Many of them would have planned to earn money during their time at university but that option has been severely limited over the last year.  We were therefore very happy to make a contribution."

L and R, London 

Colin Bain
"Research at Durham is a cornerstone of both our international reputation and our ambition for the future. I look forward to updating you in the coming months about which projects have been directly supported by your generous appeal fund. On behalf of researchers at Durham, thank you."

Professor Colin Bain, Vice-Provost (Research) 

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The Impact of your Support

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The full team is currently working out of the office due to Covid-19. We always love to hear from you but it may take us a little longer than usual to respond - especially by mail or telephone. Thank you for bearing with us. Please do get in touch with us online for anything time-sensitive at