Digglum Bestiaruim ~ The Digglers' Crest

The Digglers

Disclaimer: Student bursaries operated under our former charity, Veterinary Vouchers Charitable Trust Fund. We also had a limited company – Veterinary Vouchers Ltd, trading in vouchers and stamps. This closed in 2003, the Charity folded in 2010 as there was no connection to vouchers and stamps. The student bursaries are now part of the constitution of The Digglers and we do not operate a trading company dealing in vouchers and stamps.


About The Digglers' Charitable Trust Bursaries

In accordance with our education objective within our constitution, 'The Digglers Charitable Trust' (hereafter referred to as 'the Trust'( is to initiate a bursary scheme to assist secondary degree students at veterinary school.

  • The Trustees require confirmation from the Vet School that students have commenced or been accepted on a veterinary science degree course before they are allowed to participate in our bursary scheme.
  • Students who qualify must register with the charity and will be given an ID card. This will allow them to raise funds or permit others on their behalf to collect monies which initially must be paid to 'the Trust'. It is illegal to fund raise for the student's personal benefit unless through a charity.
  • A letter of guarantee will be sent to the participating student explaining that all monies raised by him/her or on his/her behalf and received by 'the Trust' will then be forwarded by 'the Trust' to the bursar of the veterinary establishment attended by the said student.
  • Participating students may contact individuals, charities or establishments requesting donations and any monies thereby received must be forwarded to 'the Trust'. The amount of the donation(s) received will be passed on in full by 'the Trust' to the bursar of the relevant student's veterinary school.
  • In the event that circumstances arise in which 'the Trust' is able to apply for and receives 'gift aid' in respect of a donation, a percentage of such 'gift aid' may at the sole discretion of the Trustees of 'the Trust' be given to a student to assist with payment of his/her educational fees.
  • Although 'the Trust' is not currently in a financial position to dispense an annual/partial bursary, should this become viable in the future, an application form will be placed on the website of 'the Trust' for completion by prospective students for consideration by the Trustees.
  • Students/prospective students requiring more information should contact 'the Trust' by telephone on 0161 3367378 or by email at admin@thedigglers.co.uk

Student Eligibility

Students should be a UK national studying at a UK veterinary faculty. UK nationals studying or considering studying abroad may be eligible to join the Bursary scheme depending on the location of the faculty and the degree course. Students at courses outside the UK but within the European Community or other courses accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons are more likely to be seriously considered to join the Bursary scheme.

Sponsor Form

Sponsor form that can be downloaded and used by all authorised students while fund raising.


The Charity will not be responsible for students who do not adhere to our rules and regulations regarding the collection of monies and requests for sponsorship/donations.

Current students and can you help

  • Aidan Gallagher
  • Alfie Hodges
  • Catriona Connor
  • Chelsie Bailey
  • Daniel Jones
  • Hannah McFall
  • Heather Thompson
  • Jake Burlace
  • Lawrence Maclaurin
  • Ruth Hornsby

Students now qualified MRCVS

  • Charlie Astle (2012)
  • Hayley Harwood (2012)
  • Amy Collins (2012)
  • Rownena Ford (2016)
  • Lucy Merritt (2017)


Belfast Telegraph

The following article featured in the Belfast Telegraph about one of our students and how they are fundraising for the Digglers. Read the article here.

The below was sent back to the newspaper in response to the article.

I am impressed after reading the online article for Hannah and hopefully it will generate potential sponsors.
However, it is a pity ourselves are referred to as 'the diggles' as google cannot relate the diggles to our website - thedigglers.co.uk. This unfortunately, may deter potential sponsors as they may wish to research as to where their donations are being sent. By logging onto our website, browsers are able to access our bursary section that explains the process whereby we guarantee all monies raised, the exact amount is sent to the student's vet school.
We will be placing your article on our website as it may inspire other students to contact the press in the hope of assistance with their tuition fees.
Kath Pearson Chairwoman

Help towards Fundraising

The below gives you information about how to go about fundraising, written by a previous student.

Introduction About The Writer

This is a kind of edited version of a web page that I found when I started out looking for help with fund raising a few years ago. I couldn't find the original web page, or the details of the girl who wrote it, but I hope that she doesn't mind me following it on.

This is designed to give a few tips to anyone who is thinking of training to be a veterinary surgeon, but is faced with raising the tuition fees. It is directed towards graduates, but with the situation of tuition fees increasing for first degree students, this may help anyone thinking of going to university.

After completing my first degree, I was offered a place to study veterinary medicines at Bristol University on the condition that I pay the full fee for the course. This amounts to over £70,000...not a number to be sniffed at! Anyhow, not to be defeated, I decided that I would give it my best to try and raise the money, after all, I thought that it was well worth the effort to have the chance to become a vet.

Tuition Fees

This is a hot topic for the Government and the media at the moment, as student debt rises and more and more students are worried about the financial burden of going to university. The full cost fees that graduates have to pay were introduced a number of years ago, and have only increased since. This dissuades most potential students from studying their chosen course, as it is an added pressure to students having to support themselves and concentrate on their studies.

Whether you think this is fair or not, this is the situation you will be faced with if you decide to apply as a graduate to a UK university. Unless you are lucky enough to have lots of money (or generous relatives/a winner or the lottery!) most of you will have to raise the cost of the fees yourself. A loan from your bank can be sought, but you will need a guarantor. It is probably worth talking to your bank about the finances of your course, as they may be able to help you later on if you get into difficulties.

Do not panic, it can be done!!!

With such a huge task in front of you, it can be difficult to know where to begin, so I'll try to point you in the right direction to help you get started. Hopefully it will inspire you to try to raise your fees, and not miss your chance to become a vet.

I have an offer! How do I start raising money???

Firstly, well done on getting offered a place on the veterinary course. It isn't easy...so congratulations.

All of the UK Universities now charge full cost tuition fees to graduates. Normally, you will receive your offer for entry at the start of the next academic year. This doesn't give you much time (a few months), and it may be wiser to start your preparation, at least, sooner that this. However, your offer letter will be needed as proof entry on the course. I applied right at the end of my course, after receiving my degree results. The universities that I applied to were very flexible about the offer, and were willing to let me take a year out (defer entry) to raise the money. Talk to the university and explain what your situation is, and see if they can offer any help (see below).

Be prepared for lots of letter writing. This money will not just fall into your lap. You have to be committed from day 1. It is very important to organise your fundraising from the beginning, and keeping records and correspondence.

Determination and patience is the key. I suggest you invest in a computer, or at least have access to one. The usual response to such "begging letters" is that about 2% will be successful. Keep going - it will be worth it. You must be prepared for most of your letters to be rejected, or not even replied to. However, those that do secure some funding make up for all the failures. It is difficult, but I found that it was less daunting to take it in manageable stages, and raise one year's funds at a time. I began with the "ground work" and then gradually built up on what I had already (see below). I managed to secure most of the funds for my first year by the start of the course. Some of my sponsors are able to help me with each year of the course and some gave one-off donations (you will fund that most of the grants companies only consider your application for one year at a time). Either way, all of the preparation was done right at the beginning, and although I still have some to raise, most of the hard work has been done.

Secondly, use your initiative. Your letter must clearly set out your objectives, stating the reasons why you feel you need to write to the addressee. Emphasise your determination and dedication, and your willingness to attempt to support yourself throughout the very intensive and demanding 5 year course in the face of such huge financial pressure. Just remember that you will competing with many other individuals/groups, all requesting help for worthy causes and all hoping to be awarded some money. Think about who you wish to contact, and how to go about it. Remember your letter needs to stand out from all the rest, so it is well worth investing time in preparing it properly. It is important not to ask for help with funding straight away, but to thoroughly explain your situation etc. initially so that the addresses is able to build up a clear picture of you and your appeal. Make sure, however, that it is not too long and drawn out.you don't want the reader to become bored. Try not to waffle - if you stick to explaining your situation, you should write a good letter.

People who have sponsored me come from all walks of life, and have donated between £5 and £6000. I have been sponsored by businesses, individuals, charities and trusts. You will find most of your sponsors from the resources given, but you will need to use that extra bit of initiative to find sponsors outside of the guidelines, as these sources will receive fewer letters and you will have less "competition".

You will probably find that the hardest part is finding your first sponsor.

Once you have achieved this, then the others will be much more willing to commit to you, and you will find that it will become easier. Charities, especially, are keen to ensure that you are genuine and are serious about your intentions. You are fortunate in that many people will be impressed by your self motivation and determination, and in addition, consider Veterinary Medicine a worth while and commendable career. This will increase your chances of being sponsored.

Checklist To Fundraising

Here is a check list of ideas to help you get started...

1. The University

This is the first place to start. If you talk to the university about your situation, they may be able to offer some assistance, either by:

  • Offering exemption from some parts of the course, if your first degree is relevant and overlaps. This could dramatically reduce the cost of your first year, or they may offer you entry straight into the second year. Worth investigating.
  • Help with finding contracts. Some universities have a list of organisations/companies that may be able to offer financial assistance.
  • Bursaries or scholarships, and hardship funds (usually only available to help with living costs).
  • A payment plan. This was very useful to me, as Bristol University take three instalments of the fee over the course of the year. This was one of the reasons I chose Bristol, although I am sure that others may be able to make some kind of arrangement.

2. Contact Your LEA

Depending entirely on the criteria for you LEA there is no logical reason why your LEA should not support you for 5 years of tuition at university. Some authorities are more willing than others. E.g. if your first degree lasted for three years, it is worth asking your LEA to pay for the remaining 2 years. Unlikely, but worth a go.

Also, check to see whether you are eligible for any benefits, especially if you have dependents.

3. Take A Trip To Your Local Library

In the reference section, you should find some books on fundraising and lists of charities and whom they assist. The first thing to realise is that if you are writing to charities/trusts/foundations, they will have strict guidelines. Like applying for a job, it is pointless writing to an organisation that only helps the homeless, for example. Educational charities are obviously worth contacting. Another good starting place is the Family Welfare Association. Once they have assessed your particular situation, they will be able to match your requirements to organisations in their database, and send you details of any charities, etc. who may help you.

Most organisations have limited funds. This is a very important point to beat in mind when applying for funding. You will need to know the guidelines given by the charity and match them to your situation and needs in your application. I have been awarded from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand per year. The University and The Digglers are both registered charities. This status might help you to target more grants, (i.e. from grant making trust funds who only give money to registered charities and not individuals - this is a common criterion for more trust funds) but you will need to check this out with them.

All of the funds that I raise are passed on to The Digglers, and all of my sponsors are aware of this and can either pass donations on to me, or to the charity. This gives my sponsors peace of mind that I am genuine, and have the support or a registered charity, and also The Digglers are able to reclaim the tax (gift aid) back on some of the donations received, which is a fantastic help.

4. Consider A Career Development Loan

A career development loan (or "professional studies loan" depending on which bank you apply to) may help you at the end of your studies. As far as I know, they are available to students doing a professional degree, to help them with the last couple of years. Look into it as a backup, because it might make the difference between being able or unable to cover the cost of the fees. It is something that I am considering merely to relieve the pressure of having to raise money in my final year.

One place I have found which offers career development loans is Life Long Learning. The deal is that you can apply for up to £8000 for either tuition fees or maintenance, and the government pays the interest on the loan until you finish the course. Then you have to start paying it back. There are only certain banks that do it, and you may need to take out a bank account with them.

Visit Life Long Learning's website for more information or call them on 0800 585 505.

5. Make A List Of Names

Try to make a list of people or companies whom you think will be willing to sponsor you as a veterinary student. Here are a few idea, but it is by no means, exhaustive:

  • Veterinary/pharmaceutical/healthcare companies
  • Agricultural/meat production companies
  • Philanthropists in the UK and abroad
  • Wealthy individuals
  • People in the media
  • People associated with animals
  • Local businesses
  • National businesses (some have allocated fund to help students)
  • Educational trusts/charities

Many feel very strongly about the issues relating to student loans and tuitions fees. Veterinary students have a tougher time than medics. Refer to these issues in your letter, and remember who you are writing to.

Get your thinking caps on!!

6. Keep Upto Date With The Media

Keep an eye on the tabloids/broadsheets. These may give you ideas of people to write to, or may even give direct contacts of foundations that have been set up recently. It is also a good idea to keep up to date with new charities/grant making trust funds via the Charities Commission.

Trashy mags might also give you some ideas of people to write to. Ideas could come from anywhere, so use your imagination and go for it. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!!

List of wealthy (e.g. the Rich List) may be useful. The kinds of people in these publications receive many unsolicited applications for help from charities and other people like you. Your letter will really have to stand out to appeal to these people. Many of them have their own foundation or trust fund that has its own set of guidelines. Try to find these out and write to them with as much information as possible, so that you stand out. Most of the info about these things can be found in the library and the charity commission or other such organisations.

7. Include Proof Of Your Offer

I would advise including a copy of your offer letter from the University as proof of your place on the course. Also, if possible, include some documentation regarding the cost of the fees. The more information (especially if it has official stamps on) people have to hand, the easier it is to judge your situation and decide if they wish to sponsor you. Remember that you are writing to complete strangers asking them to help you - they have to be sure that you are genuine, and the more information you can include to persuade them of this, the better.

8. Get Some Publicity!!

This was one of the first things I did when I began raising money. I contacted my local newspaper and asked if they could possibly run an article about my appeal, and gave them a photo to print with the article. Very little funding came directly from the article, but I included a copy of the article in my letters and I have no doubt that it helped enormously. It gives the impression that you are serious about the task you have set yourself, and they can see a picture of you which makes it more personal. Also including an article from a local paper may encourage local businesses to sponsor you.

9. Don't Be Disheartened

It will be a fair amount of time before you secure your first sponsor. It is definitely a lot harder at the beginning but if you put in all the ground-work (write a good letter, and get all of the addresses together) your efforts will be rewarded. I think that this fund raising is on thing that "you get out as much as you put in". I used my year out to get a good base to fundraising, and now, although I don't have all of the funds secured, I am confident that the work that I have put in will be enough to see me through.

And finally...

Don't forget to say thank you.

It is absolutely worth all the effort. There are many other graduates who have managed to raise the money for the course, by investigating one or more of the avenues that I have suggested here, so you are not alone, but you do have to be prepared to work at it.

I have given a list of books that you could use to start your search. Remember to use your imagination and a bit of initiative, because this really is only a starting point. A couple of the books five some good ideas about ways to raise money. If you have any suggestions or comments, questions or discussions, please get in touch with the team at Veterinary Vouchers. I'm sure that the Veterinary Vouchers team would like to know how you're getting on too.

Good luck!!

Fundraising Book List

Most of these can be found in your local library, in the reference section. It is by no means exhaustive, but if you find any useful books, let The Digglers know so they can update the list. If you are applying for grants from trust funds or foundations, you must make sure that you are eligible to apply. Educational foundations are a good place to start. There might be a local charity or something about your background that makes you eligible for a grant. Remember, most charities don't give grants to individuals. This may be overcome by using the registered charity status of the university or The Digglers, but you will need to look into this further.

  • A guide to the major trusts (A directory of social change publication)
  • The guide to UK company giving (DSC publication)
  • Charities Digest (The family welfare association: The educational grants advisory service, 501-505, Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU)
  • Directory of Grant-making trusts (Charities Aid foundation)
  • Educational Trusts and Foundations
  • Charity Choice
  • Who's Who & International Who's Who
  • Trusts and Foundations
  • Grants Handbook

Student Finance

Student Finance England

Those UK veterinary undergraduate students residing in England who already have a degree are not entitled to English government loans related to Tuition Fees. They maybe entitled to a Maintenance Loan for living costs because the veterinary degree is an ‘exception course’, which is means tested. The Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant will not be available from Aug 2016 but the amount that can be borrowed under the Maintenance Loan is to be increased. Also, depending on circumstances, students maybe eligible for a Supplementary Grant (Childcare Grant or Adult Dependants Grant). See https://www.gov.uk/student-finance for more details.

Student Finance Wales

Those UK veterinary undergraduates residing in Wales who already have a degree are not entitled to Welsh government loans related to Tuition Fees. They maybe entitled to a means tested Maintenance Loan for living costs because the veterinary course is an ‘exception course’. There are no plans at the moment to abolish the Maintenance Grant. Other Supplementary Grants maybe available. See http://www.studentfinancewales.co.uk for more details.

Student Finance N. Ireland

Those UK veterinary undergraduates residing in N. Ireland who already have a degree are not entitled to N. Ireland government loans related to Tuition Fees. They maybe entitled to a means tested Maintenance Loan for living costs because the course is an ‘exception course’. The Maintenance Grant will be abolished from Aug 2016 but the amount that can be borrowed under the Maintenance Loan is to be increased. See http://www.studentfinanceni.co.uk for more details.

Student Finance Scotland

Those UK veterinary undergraduates residing in Scotland who already have a degree are not entitled to Scottish government loans related to Tuition Fees. They maybe entitled to a means tested Maintenance Loan for living costs because the course is an ‘exception course’. See http://www.saas.gov.uk for more details.