Four Lewisham residents will get financial backing to study at Goldsmiths, University of London this year thanks to a scheme created in memory of the 14 young people who died as a result of the 1981 New Cross Fire.
The Mayor's New Cross Award, launched by Lewisham Council in 2006, supports bursaries to assist promising local students with their living costs whilst studying at Goldsmiths.
Four recipients who have demonstrated academic merit and their commitment to study are chosen each year by Goldsmiths, and receive £5,000 each towards the cost of their studies as well as the "Goldsmiths' Lewisham fee waiver".
Jaffar Aly has enrolled on BA Anthropology, Murtaza Begi is studying BA Politics, William James Cook is studying BA Fine Art and Rebecca Plummer is undertaking a degree in Education, Culture and Society.
Speaking at a ceremony held with Lewisham Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock to name this year’s recipients, Warden of Goldsmiths Patrick Loughrey said:
“The bursaries we award today are founded in the memory of those who lost their lives 36 years ago. No better monument is imaginable than to support four bright young people from this community.
“I’m proud to welcome to Jaffar, Murtaza, William and Rebecca to Goldsmiths. I hope their time here opens new chapters for them and for us.”
Rebecca Plummer has lived in Lewisham for 18 years, raising her two children as a single mother. She is a writer and campaigner and has worked to support the community through rehabilitation workshops and one-to-one support. In 2014, whilst living and working in a refuge, she decided she wanted to become a teacher to support the lives of young people in Lewisham. The journey towards this goal has already involved returning to college, Goldsmiths is delighted to welcome her to complete her BA.
“When I was in a refuge I saw many children who didn’t get the right encouragement and support. I saw how angry this made them, and how it could hold back their development – and that’s why I made the decision to become a teacher. I want to help children in Lewisham as much as I can.”
Jaffar Aly has been a tireless volunteer in Lewisham, working with children and the elderly across schools and care homes. He has aspirations of being a student representative, and wants to develop his critical thinking through Anthropology. He has represented the London Borough of Lewisham in the European Parliament through the Euroscula debating challenge.
Murtaza Begi, who arrived from Afghanistan at the age of 14, works closely with his local mosque, planning lessons and working with young people. He helped support Local MP, Heidi Alexander, in her 2015 campaign. Murtaza attended Addey and Stanhope school where he had the opportunity to experience Goldsmiths through the shared use of the library. He exhibits a true passion for learning and has ambitions of developing his understanding of economics and politics.
William James Cook has a passion for the arts and critical thought. Due to an accident in 2014, William has mobility issues, but he has been making a steady recovery since. Dealing with this has been a journey of learning and reflection that has fuelled his artistic expression. William has said he has always felt welcome at Goldsmiths, even when he was wheelchair bound. He has been invited to speak at his previous school, Kings 6th Form College, on the obstacles he has faced since his accident and to promote the importance of education, no matter what stands in your way.
In the early hours of Sunday 18 January, 1981, a devastating fire engulfed party-goers at a birthday celebration being held at 439 New Cross Road for Yvonne Ruddock and Angela Jackson. In the final death toll 14 young black people between the ages of 14 to 22 lost their lives. Thirteen died in the fire from burns and suffocation while one survivor, traumatised by the fire and loss, committed suicide two years later.
Goldsmiths is hosting an exhibition 13 Dead, Nothing Said, a collection of photos by Vron Ware of the Black People’s Day of Action which followed the tragedy in March 1981.
The exhibition is open to the public and is in the Richard Hoggart Building, Kingsway Corridor until May 23rd.
Find out about bursaries at Goldsmiths here