I was lucky enough to be a scholarship recipient by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to investigate piano tuning techniques in different parts of the world. But what is the Churchill Memorial Trust?
The aim of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is to honour and perpetuate the memory of Sir Winston Churchill. Another key goal of the Trust has been to help Australian gain experience, information and skills in their chosen area of expertise and to translate that into real gains for Australia.
In 1962 the Duke of Edinburgh asked Sir Winston Churchill what type of memorial he would like so that the world could remember him. Churchill was 88 at the time. Churchill had lived a remarkable public life in which, with only one break, he had been a Member of the British House of Commons for nearly sixty years.
Churchill is remembered for his leadership during World War 2. When England declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939, Churchill had already achieved success in many careers than most men of his age. In May 1940, when Hitler’s war machine had conquered most of Western Europe, and France about to fall, only the British Commonwealth countries stood against him. Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister of Defence, and Leader of the House of Commons. He was undaunted by his assumption of this power at a time of great peril for Western democracy.
From a seemingly hopeless position Churchill, by his dauntless and vigorous leadership, rallied the British people to resist an invasion and to sustain the air attacks against their country during the Battle of Britain and then the Blitz. He inspired them through “blood, toil, sweat and tears” to “hold the ring” until the Commonwealth Empire and eventually American Forces combined with the Allies to achieve final victory five and a half years later.
Those who lived through the years of World War 2 are unlikely to forget the vital role Churchill played in defeating Nazi Germany, the full magnitude of which was revealed only after the final victory was won.
In response to the Duke of Edinburgh’s request about how he would like to be remembered, Churchill suggested something like the Rhodes Scholarships, but available to all people and on a much wider basis.
A fund-raising exercise was organised and prepared to commence when Churchill passed away. Churchill died on 24 January 1965 and in Australia, the Churchill Memorial Appeal Day occurred on Sunday 28 February 1965. The day raised the equivalent of 4.3 million. This is probably the most successful fundraising event ever held in Australia.
The Churchill Trust provides financial assistance to Australians from all walks of life who want to further their search for excellence overseas. Many fellowships and scholarships currently available in Australia have a narrow focus and are awarded according to a rigid set of criteria. The Trust, however, has a broad focus and awards Churchill Fellowships based on the individual merit of each applicant and their project, whatever their passion, specialisation or qualifications may be. This is clearly evidenced by the extraordinary variety of projects undertaken by Churchill Fellows.
The real story of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is the story of the Churchill Fellows – now numbering over 3,700 Australians. What distinguishes these Australians is that they are all invariably talented and passionate with a willingness to share the results of their Fellowship with the community upon their return to Australia.
It is hoped that The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust will help future generations understand the debt that they owe to that extraordinary generation of which Churchill was a leader and symbol of dogged determination and commitment to freedom.
” With opportunity comes responsibility ” – Winston Churchill