Talented teens follow dreams with funding inspired by tragic Thomas
The mother of Thomas Devlin has said a bursary set up in memory of her murdered son has helped dozens of young people to pursue their artistic dreams.
Penny Holloway was speaking at an awards ceremony last night for the latest young recipients of the Thomas Devlin bursary in 2015. Since it was established in 2006, the fund has helped 58 young people with an interest in the arts in tribute to the bright Belfast Royal Academy pupil who was stabbed to death in north Belfast in 2005.
The family established the bursary to help young people like Thomas, who was a tenor horn player.
Ms Holloway said: "One of the things that we felt was that Thomas was interested in art and music and the creative arts and so were a lot of his friends.
"We realised that a lot of young people use the arts as a means of expressing themselves but we know that it's very hard to get funding for young people to progress onto things in the creative arts and music."
Thomas died after an unprovoked attack just 200 metres from his north Belfast home.
His family said that they also wanted his death "to be a catalyst for young people to acknowledge and appreciate the futility of gratuitous violence".
The fund, managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, helps teenagers aged 15 to 19 to buy equipment, attend specialist courses or enter third-level education.
"A lot of them have got back to us and said they wouldn't have been able to do it without the funding. It definitely has a very positive impact," Ms Holloway added.
Marcus Nodwell will use the money he received from the fund yesterday to help with his degree in painting, drawing and printmaking at Plymouth's College of Art.
Marcus (19) said: "The bursary is a lifeline that will relieve the financial stress on my family and help me to focus on my studies rather than on making ends meet. Growing up, money and opportunities were scarce and visual arts were light years away from anyone's preoccupations in my estate."
Marcus hopes to become a teacher and return to the New Mossley estate, where he was born and raised, to share the gift of art with young people like him.
Marcus said: "A teaching degree will allow me to give back to the community I grew up in by teaching children the craft of art, which will open their minds up to a world of creativity and opportunities."
Four other students will also be supported by the fund.
Eve McGuicken (18) from St Michael's Grammar School in Lurgan was awarded £320 to help her buy equipment and art supplies that will allow her to progress to university. Lee-Anne McAleese (17) from Bangor Academy received £800 for a specialist residential art course in Galway.
Meanwhile, Aislinn Nic Scannlain (18) received £1,750 to go to art college and budding film-maker Katy Duddy (17) from St Mary's College in Londonderry received £1,750 for equipment.