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Delighted trio look to future
9:02am Friday 15th March 2013 in News
Bright futures: Warden Stephen Jones talks to, from left, Matthew Jones, Armela Lasku and James Curtis Picture: Ed Nix
The winners of a life-changing bursary have spoken about how thrilled they are to have been selected.
Two young pupils have been selected as the winners of the Anniversary Bursary, a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a top-rate education worth £150,000 at St Edward’s School.
Like The Oxford Times, St Edward’s School in North Oxford is celebrating its 150th anniversary and the Anniversary Bursary is a special prize to mark the birthdays of two Oxford institutions and one that holds the promise of transforming the lives of these young people.
After seven months of competition, both Matthew Thornton from Wheatley and Armela Lasku from Southfield Park have been announced as the winners of the bursary.
Twelve-year-old Armela, who goes to Matthew Arnold School in Oxford, said: “It was amazing to find out I’d won. It feels like all my hard work has paid off.
“I’m looking forward to coming here in September. I’m really excited.” Armela’s parent’s Arton and Munishe, are both trained teachers, who came to Oxford from Albania in 2000, and have been working in a supermarket in order to support their children.
Mr Loshu said: “We know that Armela can do better. We did as much as we could for her but we couldn’t do more. I am very happy for her.” Originally, the prize had been intended for only one youngster but the selection panel was so impressed with the candidates that they decided to offer another bursary as well.
Matthew Thornton, 13, of Forest Hill, was also given a bursary to go to the Woodstock Road school. He said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I stayed at school to do some extra work and I ran home. When I got home my mum told me I had had the call and I just didn’t know what to say.” A third child, James Curtis, from Wolvercote, was given an academic scholarship to go to St Edward’s.
The editor of The Oxford Times, Simon O’Neill, said: “We are delighted for the successful candidates but, at the same time, we obviously feel for those who did not make it through and wish them every success in the future. “We are thrilled to have been involved in the competition and thanks to this wonderful prize the winners of the bursary will have the best preparation for adult life and the chance to achieve the very best of which they are capable.”
Stephen Jones, the Warden of St Edward’s, said: “We are thrilled. We said it would be really hard to decide between the final six. “This was about finding a really good person who couldn’t access what we have here and giving them an opportunity to come to St Edward’s.
“Both Armela and Matthew are very keen and very wholehearted. They are not limited in their outlook of what they do.”
Armela Lasku was born in the UK but both her parents come from Albania.
The 12-year-old from East Oxford goes to Matthew Arnold School in Oxford.
She said: “It was the amazing facilities that drew me to St Edward’s, and just how much it would change my life.
“It was amazing to find out I had got in and it felt like all my hard work had paid off. I’m looking forward to it because I can make new friends.”
Her father Arton Loshu, a trained teacher, said: “We knew about the school already but we found out about the competition by chance and we thought it was a great opportunity for her.
“We had a call from St Edward’s to say she had won and I couldn’t believe it. I am very happy.”
Her favourite subjects are English, maths and PE and her hobbies include athletics, music and reading. Her favourite authors are Eva Ibbotson, Lauren St John and Ally Carter.
She said: “The most appealing thing to me about St Edward’s would be the amazing sports facilities. When I am older I would love to be an author.”
Matthew Thornton would like to be a sportsman when he grows up.
The 13-year-old from Forest Hill goes to Wheatley Park School.
He said: “I honestly didn’t think I would win.
“I thought there would be thousands of entries but if you put yourself in then there is always the chance that it will be you.
“Everybody can dream about what they want to do but not so many people can make that happen.”
His mother, Teresa Thornton, said: “We are so proud of him and Wheatley Park School has been incredibly supportive.
“If you are talented you will do well but coming to St Edward’s just gives you more chance.”
His favourite subject at school is maths and his favourite hobbies are swimming, cycling and cross-country running.
He said: “I haven’t totally made up my mind about what I would like to be when I am older, but I like the idea of a pilot or becoming a sportsman like a triathlete.”
James Curtis is hoping that going to St Edward’s will allow him to live his dream of becoming a professional cricketer.
The 12-year-old from Wolvercote goes to The Cherwell School in Marston Ferry Road.
He said: “I am very pleased to be coming to St Edward’s. There is a very homely feel here with the set-up of the quad and everyone gets on really well.
“I worked very hard for it and my parents helped, dragging me away from the TV to revise.”
His father Ian Curtis, a top former cricketer, said: “We are still in a state of shock. It is a fantastic achievement for him to show the all-round ability to get a scholarship.
“The future is going to be really tough for children and they are going to need to be very creative to get by.
“What attracted us to St Edward’s was how it brings forth that creativity.”
James’s favourite subjects at school are English, PE, drama and maths, and his hobbies include cricket, badminton and cooking.
He said: “I’d love to be a sports journalist, or a creative teacher of sport to disabled children — alongside my dream of playing cricket professionally, of course.”
Institution has heroic tradition
St Edward’s School was founded in 1863 at New Inn Hall Street in central Oxford by the Rev Thomas Chamberlain, a fellow of Christ Church and Vicar of St Thomas’s Church, near Oxford railway station.
It was one of a number of schools founded by Chamberlain, a passionate adherent of the Oxford Movement, the great Anglo-Catholic revival of the middle of the 19th century, but the only one to survive.
It was soon realised that the school could not grow and expand on its central Oxford site, and in 1873 moved to the current site on Woodstock Road.
The school was to grow under the leadership of Algernon Barrington Simeon, whose dream was to construct a collection of monastic-style buildings around a central quad, the second largest quad in Oxford after Christ Church.
The First World War had a profound impact, and the school is proud that more boys pro rata went to serve their country than any other independent school in the country. The names of those who gave their lives are recorded and commemorated on the walls of the chapel.
The Second World War also had a huge impact on the school, with four RAF heroes being former pupils.
In 1982 the first girl joined the school in the lower sixth and the school became fully
co-educational in 1997. Currently there are about 660 pupils in the school, of whom two thirds are boys and about 80 per cent are boarders.
St Edward’s offers a wide range of qualifications: GCSE, IGCSE (the international GCSE, offered in core subjects), A-levels, the Extended Project and the International Baccalaureate Diploma; exam results in recent years have been the best in the school’s history.