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Maurice Watkins Bursary reaches significant milestone

4 min read

Maurice Watkins Bursary reaches significant milestone

We have reached a significant milestone in our efforts to support aspiring young lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds, as the Maurice Watkins Rising Stars Bursary passes the six-month anniversary of its launch.

In that time the fund, administered by the We Love MCR Charity through its unique Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund, has made awards of over £9,500 to support young Mancunians who want to pursue a career in law.

The bursary was named in memory of Maurice Watkins CBE, an iconic legal figure and former Brabners Partner, and was announced on the one-year anniversary of his passing. It was launched with an initial pledge of £10,000 per annum for the first three years. Through the bursary, budding law professionals aged 15-22 living in Manchester can apply for grant funding to help cover the cost of essential items including laptops and books for studying, travel costs for internships, or clothing for interviews.

The initiative has received support from notable figures associated with Manchester, including Sir Alex Ferguson.

Meet the young people who have benefitted so far


Lydia is a budding lawyer in the making, whose ambition is to work in human rights law in the future. Described by her college as an outstanding student, the 17 year old has already had work experience with a law firm, thanks to the University of Manchester’s 'Pathways to Law’ programme. Lydia plans to join the University of Manchester’s Law course on achieving her predicted A-Level results!

On top of excelling academically and spending time on the Law programme, Lydia also works two part-time jobs to support herself. She is currently living semi-independently at Manchester Foyer, a place offering accommodation to young Mancunians estranged from their families. As a Looked After Child, Lydia is unable to rely on parents to support her financially, unlike many of her peers.

Lydia applied to the Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund for £2,136 to cover the costs of a quality laptop and an iPad pro, both of which would accelerate her studies, improve her revision, and allow for extra-curricular legal analysis. We look forward to following this hardworking young woman’s journey!


Elizabeth is an 18 year old from Blackley in North Manchester who applied to the Bursary whilst she was still a student at Xaverian College, waiting for A-Level results that would hopefully allow her to go on to study Law. Elizabeth has developed a keen interest in commercial law, specifically how it impacts on small businesses, telling us in ten years’ time she also hopes to use the knowledge gained to support and represent the youth of Manchester.

Since 15, Elizabeth has been an active ambassador for Young MCR, taking part in events and even sitting on grants panels, determining where money for young people is spent in Manchester.

Elizabeth’s only I.T. equipment for studying and submitting work was her phone, so she applied to the Manchester’s Rising Stars Fund for a laptop to support her studies and meet the accessibility needs her dyslexia requires. Elizabeth has worked part-time and zero-hours jobs, but the inconsistent hours and relying on one parent’s income has meant the family have to prioritise in the current climate. The fund awarded Elizabeth £1,349 for a quality laptop that will allow her to follow her chosen path, and we’re delighted to say she got the results she needed to start her Law degree at Liverpool John Moore’s University!


Fatima was taken into care due to her violent home situation. As a Care Leaver, Fatima is excelling, with a first in Law from University of Manchester, achieved in 2022. She now aims to do her Bar Practice Course (BPC) so she can achieve her ambition to become a family barrister. Despite working whilst at university she could not save up enough to pay the £12,000 fee for the BPC course. We awarded her £5,000 to enable her to take up the place in 2023. We Love MCR has also secured a mini pupillage for Fatima with a Chamber in Manchester.


Ebemeh is a college student who aspires to work in the legal industry.  Specifically, she intends to apply to Royal Holloway for a Law and International Relations degree, and then apply to the Bar and become a practicing advocate. Ebemeh applied to the Bursary for funds to purchase an iPad and iPencil to support these ambitions, and was awarded £1,357.

Leanne Instrall, Senior Associate and leader of our Social Mobility Affinity Group, said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that four inspirational young people from Manchester have already benefitted from the award. All four recipients have overcome significant challenges to achieve great results through college and university, and we hope that the funding they have received will allow them to take the next step towards a successful legal career. We look forward to hearing more about their successes in the future.”