Keeping Helen's memory alive

Timen Siret receives the Helen Jones bursary from Anton Colella
By Anton Colella, ICAS CEO

25 June 2015

Anton Colella reflects on the enduring legacy of young CA Helen Jones, who was killed in the London bombings, and the importance of widening access to the profession.

It's almost 10 years since we lost a young and promising member of the ICAS family.

Helen Jones was a 28-year-old CA who was killed in the bomb attacks in London on 7 July, 2005. A precious life, like so many others, taken on that most tragic of days.

Helen's mother, Liz Staffell, was determined to ensure her memory lived on and - with the help of family, friends, ICAS and the Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research - the Helen Jones Scholarship was established.

The scholarship has been providing bursaries for students from the area where Helen grew up to enable them to study accountancy, finance or management. I was delighted to award the tenth - and final - bursary to young Timen Siret at our offices in Edinburgh today.

It was an emotional event and was made all the more special because so many previous recipients of the award were able to attend.

All of these young people are thriving and that is a source of great pride and consolation to Liz, who has been so heroic in pursuing this great initiative.

The Scholarship planted the seeds for the ICAS Foundation, which provides opportunities in accountancy for many young people from deprived areas and I was proud to announce the award of a further 34 bursaries last week, bringing the total to 63.

This is a great achievement in the relatively short life of the Foundation and if evidence of its importance were needed, then the recently published Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission provided that.

The report highlighted the continuing barriers that still exist for many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are seeking careers in law, accountancy and financial services.

This study made sobering reading but it noted the work of the ICAS Foundation in providing "bursaries, a mentoring scheme and internships for high performing individuals from low income backgrounds".

The Foundation is going from strength to strength because of the great generosity and willingness of our CAs to fund its work, give up their time to act as mentors and provide support to bring new CAs into the profession.

Through the ICAS Foundation we can ensure that the positive impact of Helen's life and legacy will be felt in the lives of many for years to come.

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