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After Solar Solve Marine made a donation to South Shields Marine School’s Dr. Winterbottom Charitable Fund the chairman was invited to meet some of the people involved with it.

He was updated on its progress by Les Watson, the founder and fund chairman and then introduced to other committee members and Muraleedharan Balakrishnan, a student who has benefitted from the fund through a loan and grant, which has avoided him having to give up his course half way through and return to India due to unfortunate circumstances beyond his control.  John was told of other students who have been similarly helped by the charitable fund, with the Hardship Fund segment being the most utilised so far.

As Les Watson explained, “In most cases of genuine hardship, the difference between a student being able to complete their course successfully or not, is often only a matter of providing a grant of less than £100 up to a few hundred pounds.  In some cases, once a student successfully completes a course it results in a job with greater financial reward and so we will supplement a grant with a loan that they undertake to pay back when they are working again.”

“It is down to trust and the fund’s objective of wanting to remove unnecessary stress for any of South Tyneside College’s students who are trying to improve themselves and their career prospects but need a bit of financial assistance.  So far the success rate has been a great reward for the committee members.”

John Lightfoot commented, “This is my second visit to the Marine School to meet up with Les and learn more about the Charitable Fund and once again I am impressed with everyone’s commitment to it.  I first attended The Marine School as a Marine Engineer Cadet in 1959 and am now a Fellow.”

“I was born, live and work in South Shields and am very proud of my town, its people, our attitude towards the thousands of foreign students who visit every year and most especially the 156-year-old South Shields Marine School, which is now part of South Tyneside College.”

“It is with the greatest of pride and pleasure that Solar Solve Marine continues to support the college and the Dr. Winterbottom Charitable Fund.”

Dr. Thomas Masterman Winterbottom was born in South Shields, worked in Sierra Leone for 3 years, was a local GP for 27 years then retired and spent the next 35 years closely involved with local charitable and educational work.  He made a major contribution to a number of the town’s charities but is most famous as the founder of South Shields Marine School which opened in 1861, two years after his death.

The Fund is managed by a committee of governors, students and staff to reflect the remit of the college, which is to support its students locally, nationally and internationally with issues like Health and Wellbeing; Business Start Up and Learning Hardship.  The latter is designed to overcome barriers to learning by providing small grants to individual students who may need short term help to aid their education progression.

The charity can be contacted by telephone on +44 191 427 3717 or email 

Top Image – Chloe Donnelly, level 3 Applied Science course, Vice President of the Student Union and the student representative on the Dr. Winterbottom Charitable Fund committee, thanks John Lightfoot, MBE, for Solar Solve Marine’s continued support.  Looking on are Bill Craik, Senior Technician at South Tyneside College, the committee’s staff representative and Muraleedharan Balakrishnan, a student of the Marine School who has benefited from the fund, which helped him to stay on his course in spite of family hardship.