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BayTrust Celebrates 25 Years of Dillon Scholarship

9 May 2016

BayTrust Celebrates 25 Years of Dillon Scholarship

BayTrust’s Dillon Scholarship programme, which supports local students with significant disabilities to undertake tertiary study, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has given out $1.5 million to over 480 students since it first began.

Former Taupo businessman Daniel Leonard is among those who have benefitted, having received a Dillon Scholarship for the past four consecutive years while studying towards a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Otago University.

The 36 year-old was born with a tumor inside his spine which caused nerve damage affecting his legs. He walks with a limp as a result, and has had to overcome other medical complications during his life.

He’s now half way through his medical studies and says the Dillion Scholarship has made student life a lot easier.

“It’s been a great help in terms of paying for living costs and stuff that you need for uni which you’d otherwise have to find the money for. This year I had to buy a new computer, for example. Having a disability is not always easy and it’s nice to know that extra financial support is there.”

Chair of the Dillon Scholarship committee, Pamela Lewis, says the Dillon Scholarship programme was first established in 1990 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bay Savings Bank, the forerunner of Trust Bank Bay of Plenty. It was named after the late Ray Dillon, a former chairman of the Trust Bank Bay of Plenty board and former Mayor of Tauranga.

Two scholarships were awarded the first year totaling $1800. Since then, $1.5 million worth of scholarships have been awarded to over 480 students with significant disabilities.

Mary Dillon, the wife of the late Ray Dillon and former Tauranga Deputy Mayor and BayTrust Chair, says she had no idea the scholarship would grow into the significant programme it is today. “It’s quite extraordinary. If you’re physically or emotionally challenged it’s actually really hard to get funding to assist you with education beyond high school.

“The beauty of this scholarship is there’s no boundaries around it. The recipients can choose to use the money for whatever they need. I hope it continues well into the future and I’d like to thank BayTrust for keeping to the original spirit of helping people with significant disabilities,” she says.

“It’s something we have here in the Bay of Plenty that they don’t have anywhere else in New Zealand and that’s pretty special.”

Applications for the Dillon Scholarship open each year on 1 November for the following academic year. Bay of Plenty students who have a medically-recognised significant disability can apply for up to $5000 per year for a maximum of four years. There is no age restriction.