Five girls who had been at Westonbirt between 1928 and 1934, lost their lives during the Second World War whilst serving variously in the Armed Forces, Civil Defence and Nursing services. A fund was set up in their memory in the late 1940s, with the aim of awarding a bursary each year to help fund the school fees of a girl from a forces family. Nowadays the award is for the Sixth Form and may be awarded to more than one girl to help with the fees.
The Memorial board,showing the names of the girls who died, hangs in the Great Hall at Westonbirt. Barbara Blakiston Houston joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force at the start of the war and died in an air accident in Northern Ireland in 1942. Bridget Hill and Honor Salmon (nee Pitman) were both qualified pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary and died in aeroplane accidents. Estelle Tidman had joined the Civil Defence and died whilst driving an ambulance during a bombing raid on London. Grizel Wolfe Murray (nee Boyle) was a member of the Voluntary Aid detachment. The troopship, in which she was returning from nursing service overseas, was torpedoed and she died a few days later in the lifeboat.
In order to be considered for the Memorial Bursary girls are nominated by the school in the spring of their Year 11 and candidates need to complete an application and be interviewed by members of the Westonbirt Association Executive Committee. This process is friendly but challenging and provides good experience for university applications and job interviews in later life. For the successful candidate, the receipt of the award enhances their CV as well as providing financial help. The award is paid for each of the two years of Sixth Form.
Over the years we have helped fund over 70 pupils to stay on in the Sixth form. However, with the rising cost of school fees and the income levels from investments we urgently need to raise more capital in order to continue making a significant award.