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Goldsmiths students from Lewisham have been presented with bursaries to support their education, in memory of the 14 young people who died as a result of the New Cross Fire in 1981.
The New Cross Fire was a suspected racially-motivated arson attack at a house party on January 18, 1981, that led to the deaths of 14 young Black people in the community.
With funding from Lewisham Council, the awards were established in 2006 as a memorial to those who lost their lives. In total the Council has generously donated over £327,000 to support more than 40 local students to study at Goldsmiths.
The £4,500 bursaries are given to Lewisham residents, spread across their time studying at the College.
Recipient Reece Timis, studying BSc Marketing, said: “The bursary helped in many ways, both with my education and with looking after my mum, who is severely disabled. I was able to invest in my own laptop which has been with me through countless study sessions and late-night readings. It has helped me have a freedom that I didn’t have before, to study where I want, and have the comfort of not feeling behind most of my peers.
“The purpose of the bursary is to make sure that the victims of the New Cross Fire tragedy are remembered, and it gives to the people of Lewisham both the chance to honour them and the opportunity to better their future.”
Students who have received bursaries gathered at an award ceremony at St James Hatcham Church on our campus. The event was the first in-person ceremony since 2019 and recognised bursary recipients from the last three academic years.
Goldsmiths students Zania Flemming, Gabriel Arthur, Paine Owens, Lauren Samme, Reece Timis, Sian Bailey, Janet Beckford, Isaac Maxwell, Dorcas Mukobo, Danielle Menezes Heath, Dorcas Nagwamma, Odette Pryce, Akifur Rahman and Maisie Scott-Leaburn each received the £4,500 bursary towards the cost of their undergraduate education.
Survivors of the New Cross Fire and family members of the victims attended the event with an address from Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths and Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham and a response on behalf of students receiving the award.
Professor Corner said: “These bursaries were established in 2006 and since then we have been able to support more than 40 local students to study at Goldsmiths thanks to generous financial support from Lewisham Council.
“Many of these students have also benefitted from a fee waiver from Goldsmiths, an additional layer of financial help for students who may otherwise not be able to attend university.
“We are proud to be working closely with the Council to ensure people in Lewisham are able to experience the transformative impact of higher education in their home borough.”
Damien Egan said: “It’s fantastic to be able to come together to celebrate our bursary recipients for the first time in three years.
“Our bursary supports young people who otherwise may not be able to go to university. Given the average student debt now £50,000 it’s a huge barrier to many Lewisham families. This is all the more relevant as we find ourselves entering a cost of living crisis.
“We set the bursary up in 2006 to not only honour the 14 young lives lost in the New Cross fire but also to ensure something positive came out of that tragedy. We can only do this with the support of Goldsmiths and the victims’ families, and I thank them both.”
Former bursary recipient and alumna Neda Khalili, who studied BA Popular Music, said: “This bursary is an incredible opportunity for students who will use the funding to help further their education and career prospects. It enabled me to invest in recording and music equipment that would not have been possible otherwise.”
Applications for the New Cross Fire Bursaries 2022-23 open in October 2022.