15 June 2024

Acting bursary in memory of Dawn Sturgess helps young actors achieve their dreams

A bursary to support young actors and creatives has been set up in memory of Dawn Sturgess, a Salisbury woman who died after coming into contact with the nerve agent Novichok.

The nerve agent was the poison used to attack the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, 2018. The public health crisis and criminal investigation following the poisonings were the subject of the highly acclaimed drama series The Salisbury Poisonings by Dancing Ledge Productions. The series was the first drama based on first-hand accounts and interviews with people caught up in tragedy.

Today, Dancing Ledge Productions, Wiltshire Creative and Dawn’s parents, have announced the launch of The Dawn Sturgess Bursary to help young creative people from the area achieve their full potential.

The bursary is open to permanent Wiltshire residents aged 18-25 who have accepted an offer for a full-time acting course being taught within a UK drama school in Spring 2022. The bursary will provide one budding Drama School acting student with funding of up to £30,000 towards their living costs while studying.

When approached by Dawn’s father, Stan Sturgess to set up the bursary alongside Wiltshire Creative, the Dancing Ledge Productions were honoured.

Stan Sturgess said, “We want to help young people achieve their hopes and dreams. Dawn always said to her kids to dream big. When me and Gracie visited the set of The Salisbury Poisonings and met the little girl [Sophia Alley] who played her, it was a really moving moment.

“You could see how hard Sophia and her family were working to achieve her acting dreams – young people need all the help they can get. And in a few years’ time, it’ll be wonderful to see how Dawn’s bursary has allowed young people to achieve their dreams“.

Dancing Ledge Productions has an ongoing commitment and successful proven track-record for supporting emerging talent launching the UK‘s first TV Writer in Residence bursary scheme in 2016.

From holding regular creative writing workshops with local school Kensington Aldridge Academy, mentoring students, providing work placements and fund-raising to running the High End TV Mentoring Programme with ITV, the BBC and Screen Skills. The company mentors more talent than any other production company in the UK.

Laurence Bowen, CEO & Chris Carey, MD, Dancing Ledge Productions commented, “Nurturing emerging talent is at the core of what we do at Dancing Ledge and it is a huge honour to be able to launch this bursary alongside Wiltshire Creative in Dawn’s name.

“We are hugely grateful to Dawn’s family for working with us in order to champion talent from her home county and hope this helps the memory of her live on”.

Louise Dancy, Take Part Director said, “Wiltshire Creative are delighted to be working with Dancing Ledge Productions in the creation of a bursary for young people to be able to access high quality drama training. We are passionate about championing local talent, and equal access to opportunities which are sadly unattainable for so many.

The events surrounding the Novichok attack in 2018 are still very much present in the hearts and minds of those in Salisbury and across Wiltshire so most fitting we are able to honour the memory of Dawn Sturgess in this way”.

Applications for the bursary will open in March 2022.

Written by
Beth Doherty
View all articles
Written by Beth Doherty