Sophie Lawrence Becomes First Recipient of Donnelly Design Award 21 June 2021

Year 13 student Sophie Lawrence was presented with the inaugural Donnelly Design Award on Friday 18 June for her outstanding work in the subject of Design and Technology. The award consisted of a framed certificate and a kit required for the Product Design course Sophie wishes to study at Loughborough University, including required texts, marker pens and fine liners, French curves, and a sketchpad, among other items.

The award was established by generous donor Bill Donnelly, his brother Ted, and his cousins William and Ellen in memory of their fathers, Old Bedford Modernians and brothers Thomas Donnelly (1932-37) and William Donnelly (1929-35).

Their time at Bedford Modern School had a significant impact on the brothers, with William taking more of an interest in academia, and Thomas being involved with engineering and mechanics. Thomas went on to become an expert craftsman with wood and an accomplished motor engineer, staying in the motor trade all his life. William, on the other hand, worked in the Education Department of Bedfordshire County Council, focusing particularly on youth-oriented educational projects.

As such, craft, engineering, design, and an interest in youth development were intrinsic values present in the two OBMs, as well as a sense of pride in their old school. Bill Donnelly explained that this was the inspiration for organising the prize: “We, and our cousins, felt that we wanted to recognise all that these two men, and all of us then as their families, had benefitted from as a result of their education at Bedford Modern School.”

Bill added: “We are most pleased that this will add to the stimulation of young students at the school to follow an Engineering and Design career path.”

On being presented with her kit and certificate, Sophie said: “I’m very grateful and happy that I’ve been nominated and that they have faith in me, and just really grateful to Bill Donnelly as well for funding the award.”

The Donnelly Design Award will now be presented annually to a Year 13 student who shows exceptional talent in Design and Technology. On Sophie’s ability, Head of DT and ICT Mr Jones said: “Sophie is a thoroughly deserving winner.  Her passion for the subject, innovative design approach and creativity, willingness to push the boundaries and desire to learn new skills have enabled her to develop into an outstanding product designer.  We know she wants to pursue a career in this field and have no doubt that she has shown the necessary qualities to succeed on the very prestigious Product Design course at Loughborough University.”