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Funded travelling Fellowships seek canoeists

Wed 16 July 2014
Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

"The majority of you reading this will not know me, if you do it will likely be as London Gold Medallist, Tim Baillie’s Mum, but back in the 1970s and 80s  it was a different story, I was Mike Jones’s sister.

Mike was my younger brother who followed me into canoeing.  He loved all aspects of canoeing,  river trips, surfing, slalom and whitewater but in particular he loved big whitewater.  With a close group of friends he went on to push the boundaries of whitewater expedition canoeing worldwide,  including the rivers Inn, Orinoco, Blue Nile, Colorado, Dudh Kosi (river that runs of Everest) until finally losing his life while rescuing a friend on the Braldu river which runs off K2 in the Himalayas.

Most of his expeditions were undertaken with a small group of equally adventurous (mad) paddlers, who achieved much in pushing not only the boundaries of this type of expedition but also the design/manufacture of equipment and the techniques of filming to spread the word about canoeing expeditions to the wider world.

After his death these friends along with my parents founded the Mike Jones Memorial fund which raised money both in the immediate aftermath of his death but also by events such as the Mike Jones Rallies and a film hire business that Mike had set up, which my Mum ran from home for many years.

Early in his career Mike had been awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship towards the cost of one of his expeditions and hence it seemed fitting to use some of his memorial fund and ask the Winston Churchill Fellowship to set up an award in his memory.  The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is still going strong and awarding many fellowships each year for a huge variety of projects.  The value of these awards has increased greatly in the many years since Mike won his award and can provide a significant boost to people trying to realise a dream.  The specific money from the Mike Jones fund has long since expired but the award lives on and one person each year is still chosen to get the Mike Jones Award which is for a project specifically related to Canoeing.

Recent recipients of the Mike Jones Award include some very audacious exploits but others are less outrageous although equally challenging. Here are some of them:

  • Will Millard made an expedition by kayak and on foot across the width of largely uncharted Indonesian Papua.
  • Sarah Hooper explored the descents of Arctic rivers in Canada, as well as participating in a wilderness therapy programme.
  • Phil Harwood made the first descent of the River Congo, in Central Africa, from source to sea
  • Mike Lamb retraced the route of David Livingstone across Lake Malawi, working with teachers and schools along the route.
  • Chris Smith explored the rivers of Madagascar
  • Richard Joy studied whitewater rescue techniques in North America and Canada.
  • Clare Jones paddled the Inside Passage from Vancouver in Canada to Juneau in Southern Alaska
  • SCA Honorary president , Duncan Winning, did not get the mike Jones award but he had a Winston Churchill Fellowship to  investigate  the "Inuit Origins of Modern Recreational Sea Kayaks".

In 2015, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust will be investing £1.2 million in British citizens, by awarding a record number of 150 Travelling Fellowships, in order to mark its 50th anniversary.

This will directly support British citizens who want to travel overseas to gain knowledge, experience and best practice to benefit others in their UK professions and communities, and society as a whole. The application process is now open.
As part of the Exploration section of our Open Category, we are particularly interested in applications from canoeists, who are planning to lead adventurous expeditions.

Successful applicants must demonstrate the commitment, the character and the tenacity to travel globally in pursuit of new and better ways of tackling a wide range of current challenges facing the UK, and upon their return work to transform and improve aspects of today’s society.
A travelling sabbatical for people with the drive, determination and desire to help others, can further their leadership and role model abilities.
Employers often also see great benefits with employees returning with new knowledge, skills and ideas to share with others within the organisation. 
Applications are judged purely on project merit, and these opportunities are available to UK residents over the age of 18, of any ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Successful applicants will receive an average Fellowship grant of over £6000, covering return airfare, daily living costs, insurance and travel within the countries being visited, for approximately 6 weeks overseas.
Applications for Awards for 2015 have now opened so if you have an idea for an expedition for 2015 have a look at the details on The deadline for the 2015 applications is 5pm on 23rd September 2014."

Chris Baillie