September 2020 Newsletter

Introduction from the Chairman Mick Burrows

Dear colleague, it seems a long time since I wrote the introduction to our last newsletter in February, I don’t think any of us had imagined the impact and devastation that Covid-19 presented to everyone. I personally and fortunately don’t know anyone who has yet had the virus, I am sure however that somewhere within our Roosevelt alumni one of you will either be directly affected or know someone who is, my thoughts and condolences to those of you who have either lost dear ones or been affected by the virus.

How the world has changed, clearly this particularly affects a travelling scholarship. However along with my fellow Trustees we remain both committed and optimistic about future opportunities once the world recovers.    

The good news as you saw in February’s newsletter, both Sam and Henry managed to undertake their scholarship very successfully and with great effect and impact.

Meantime our County Council sponsored Mayflower scholar Tom, just managed to return to the UK as Covid 19 started to impact. Tom’s experience and the results of his journey and experience are very enlightening, I am particularly looking forward to hearing at first hand from Tom once Trustees can meet again face to face. You can see Tom’s initial ‘table-top’ video about the Mayflower on our Facebook and website.

As you may recall, to help further develop, profile and celebrate our scholarship, we had planned for a very exciting and full programme of events, celebrations and strategic visioning exercises across the summer period. These included a wide range of shared activities including our very first Showcase event scheduled for June and our annual celebration event scheduled for July. Most importantly, we had arranged to participate in a Visioning for the Future and Strategic Planning event which was kindly to be facilitated by one of our great supporters, Richard Donovan  who is Global Head of Social Innovation & UK&I Head of Corporate Responsibility at Experian, this was also scheduled for June.

Obviously, we have had to put everything on hold until we are able to gather again and meet face to face. 

With regard to this year’s recruitment process which had already commenced with a very good field of potential applicants (my thanks to everyone who assisted in publicising etc)  we are now proposing to postpone the scholarship until 2021, existing applicants will have first call on the places available. We hope that by early 2021 international travelling and social interaction will be improved with opportunities that are currently restricted.  

Our Trustees all serve the scholarship on a voluntary basis with great commitment and enthusiasm. Our thanks go to Councillor Kevin Rostance with a warm welcome to Councillor Stuart Wallace as he takes over as Chairman of the County Council. Also thanks to the Lord Mayor Councillor Rosemary Healy. I wanted to particularly thank Councillor Yvonne Woodhead, who following her year as Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council has remained a very loyal and valued Trustee. Yvonne provided generous and welcome support, but is now standing down as we aim to provide an opportunity for a ’new’ (and young) scholar to serve as a Trustee.

Speaking of goodwill, I wanted to particularly thanks Russ and management team colleagues for their continued support, enthusiasm and commitment, they continuously generate new ideas and thoughts for which we as Trustees are very grateful and appreciative.




Sam Preston – Sustainable US Cities

A few more months removed from her enlightening time exploring sustainable cities in the US, 2019 scholar Sam provides an update…

Opportunities were plentiful in the first few months after returning from the US in December, even in the midst of a pandemic. Perhaps top of the list is joining a 30 under 30 network for “the next generation of sustainability leaders” run by, a news outlet for environmental professionals. The initiative offers a profile piece, workshops, networking sessions, access to leaders club events, mentorship and a year of free membership to the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Being in amongst successful young employees representing high profile companies offers unparalleled chances to access private sector insights into sustainability. My application’s success most probably rested on my unique US experience, so I already have a lot to thank the Roosevelt Scholarship for on top of the wonderful trip itself.

Prior to the COVID crisis, speaking invitations were materialising thick and fast and I did manage to present some project findings to a diverse mixture of local groups. Audiences included the Nottingham Green Partnership (part of One Nottingham), primary children at the Real Science in Schools Symposium, listeners of Nottingham Good Food Partnership’s local heroes podcast and De Montfort University’s Leading Change for Sustainability master’s students to whom I delivered a guest lecture on innovative behaviour change programmes. Inspired by the faith group alliances I met in the US, I also visited St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market to talk with their congregation about our Carbon Neutral strategy and the idea of setting up a network; an idea I’ve been discussing with a passionate University of Nottingham geography professor whose research addresses a similar space.

Another small but potentially exciting development has been connecting our Nottingham Green Partnership chairperson, Richard Barlow, with a prominent law professor who I interviewed at Columbia University in New York City. The latter co-edited a book called Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in the US and had asked me to look out for ways of expanding his work into the UK. While I know little to nothing about law, I was really pleased to be able to introduce him to Richard, a passionate environmental lawyer who has only been too happy to run with the idea. Stay tuned for updates!

Unsurprisingly, a lot of plans have been put on hold during the pandemic. In the last newsletter I mentioned that I had contributed to an NTU paper with US case studies I had collected during my scholarship. Entitled “Digitally Engaged? Reflections and recommendations for engaging citizens in smart cities”, it has now been accepted but its conference presentation and publication in the Earth and Environmental Science Journal have been indefinitely delayed. So too have other speaking engagements, including a couple at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Business Club.

On the bright side, lockdown for me has allowed more time to focus on my scholarship report, as much of my project work, which largely revolves around face-to-face engagement, has come to a halt. With notes to organise from over 160 events and interviews across 11 US cities, the write-up is no mean feat, but in the process I am rediscovering all of the inspiration and wisdom I came across on my three month adventure. Without a doubt this is translating to my City Council work. Recently, for example, I presented new ideas for virtual engagement to our departmental manager’s meeting, attended a Citizens Assembly meeting and sat on a NottStopping sustainability talk panel, and kept finding myself starting sentences with “In America I saw/found that…” throughout them all.

Finally, a more unusual outcome which is also very much linked to the scholarship is my Californian Coronavirus love story! Back in November on my trip, I met my now-boyfriend, Colin, at UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability, and was supposed to go out and visit him in April. On the day the President announced incoming UK flights were to be banned, Colin bought the next one-way ticket to London and has been living with me ever since. Admittedly a huge risk, but one which is paying off so far. It just goes to show the unexpected magic that can ensue from a Nottingham Roosevelt scholarship.

You can follow Sam on her Twitter at

Henry Franklin – Offsite Construction: What can the UK learn?


Having settled back into UK life, 2019 scholar Henry updates us on his life post-scholarship…

I returned from my NRMTS experience in December 2019 and have had a hectic time since! In the three months up until lockdown was announced I found time to change jobs and move to a new house.

Before leaving the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in March I put my experiences investigating offsite construction in the US to good work, launching the UK’s largest ever government-backed R&D programme in the construction sector. I wrote the initial proposal for the Construction Innovation Hub’s Platform Design Programme and worked with my team at the MTC for nine months in order to prepare for its launch. The programme aims to bring together companies from across the construction sector to collaboratively develop a platform building solution that can be used by government to construct the next generation of social infrastructure; schools, hospitals, social housing etc. The programme is intended to counter concerns around low levels of productivity, poor quality and an increasing skills shortage in the construction sector. Over the course of the following 18 months businesses enrolled on the programme will design a kit of parts from which multiple building types can be delivered and construct a proof of concept building to showcase the technologies developed.

In March I left the MTC to join Cheesecake Energy Ltd, a start-up company that has spun out of a Nottingham University research project. I am part of a small technical team generating the detail design of a prototype energy storage system that we will build and operate by Q2 2021. It’s an entirely new challenge and one that I am enjoying a lot, reaching out to my network to find the components,  services and skills that Cheesecake Energy needs to complete the development of our system – a skill I was able to hone whilst preparing for my scholarship. 

If you have a background in engineering research and development projects or energy storage and believe you may be able to provide help or advice, it would be great to hear from you. My email is



Despite some major disruption caused by the pandemic, Mayflower Scholar Tom explains how he managed to make the most of his Roosevelt experience…

I was sat in Heathrow airport on the 1st March, really excited about visiting America for the first time. It was also the first time I would be travelling abroad with some kind of purpose. It was before COVID-19 really made any headlines in the UK (if you can remember that time) but roughly a quarter of the people in the airport were wearing face masks. At the time, I very naively thought it was a bit of an overreaction. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was obviously proven to be hideously wrong. I was in Boston, MA visiting some truly breathtaking museums and art galleries. I learnt about the Salem witch trials, the American civil war and stood outside for hours in the freezing cold amongst thousands of people to witness a re-enactment of the Boston Massacre.

Everything was going really well and I was learning a lot. You know what happens next. Each museum and gallery I visited seemed to close almost exactly twenty four hours after I visited them. I considered myself to be incredibly lucky to have visited these places in the nick of time and to have been one of the last visitors at each of these places, but I knew that my luck would run out at some point.

I run my own business, promoting and developing interactive living history projects in Nottinghamshire primary schools. My idea was to use these techniques to develop a character role-play to educate the people of Nottinghamshire about the Mayflower story and the county’s role in its success. There was a whole mock village in Plymouth, MA designed to look and feel like a seventeenth century village a few years after the Mayflower had landed. There were around thirty performer-interpreters who had all done a lot of research into these real, British figures from this story – including the Brewster family who lived in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. Needless to say, this was the centre of my research project and held some incredible value and great insight. I got on the train from Boston to Plymouth and met with a family who I had arranged to stay with for a few days. Communication was very limited and all I knew was that I would be staying in a ‘cold basement’. Tempting, I know. Combined with the ever-slimming chances of getting to visit Plimoth Plantation, I was starting to worry. I checked Twitter and watched the news at regular intervals to see if I could forecast what was going to happen.

Thankfully, Amber, who is the ‘mom’ of the house was incredibly generous and helpful. Her very American sense of adventure took us to the Plantation the day before it was open to the public. We let ourselves around the thatched buildings and spoke to some of the interpreters who were very keen to practice their accents on an English person. The following day was the first day of the season that they were open to the public and I arrived there as it opened at 9am and stayed until 4:30pm asking questions and just generally being nosy. The characters would wave and call me by name by the time I had done my sixth or seventh lap of the village.

The next day, it was announced that Plimoth Plantation had decided to close. It has been open for one day so far this year and I was there to see all of it and speak to everybody.

This was the day that I was supposed to be going onwards to New York, but uncertainty about how and when I would be returning back to the UK made me wary of travelling any further. Thankfully, Amber’s house was very nice and the basement wasn’t as cold as I had expected. She invited me to stay as long as I wanted and made me feel like part of the family. The dad of the family, Jesse, is a nurse in the emergency room of the local hospital and we’d often stay up after he had worked twelve-hour shifts at the hospital and we’d drink beer from the Mayflower brewery (strictly for research purposes, obviously) and watch infection-disaster movies whilst he explained how accurate they were (the Matt Damon movie Contagion is apparently scarily similar to COVID-19).

Jesse and Amber have two children. Whilst Jesse was working in the hospital and Amber was studying, I would go out on walks with the kids or spend a few hours telling them stories about Robin Hood and other random bits of English history I could remember.

Amber also amazingly put me in contact with Ben Brewster (ninth descendent of Mayflower Pilgrim William Brewster) and James Baker, who helped implement the historical re-enactments at Plimoth Plantation nearly forty years ago. The opportunity to interview them both was wholly unexpected and gave great insight into the story itself and how and why it should be told.

I very nearly didn’t get on the train from Boston to Plymouth because I was scared of being stuck in a cold basement with some strangers. In the end, getting on that train was the best decision I have ever made.

I returned to the UK just a week earlier than planned. I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything because the experiences I gained from being in these strange circumstances went so far above what I expected to achieve and learn.

The knowledge I gained during the trip have been used since I returned to help further my own business and also help turn my telling of the Mayflower story into something unique that I hope Nottinghamshire can be proud of.

Amber, Jesse and I still remain in regular contact and I sometimes send educational videos about English history for their two children. I am also delighted to say that they have a new favourite phrase: Ey up me duck!




Like many people in recent months, the scholarship management committee have had to find ways to keep busy during lockdown. Here are a few insights from the team about how they’ve been passing the time…

Russ Blenkinsop (1983 Scholar)

During the lockdown, my wife Liz and I have set up Lowdham Volunteers to provide shopping, meals and pharmacy deliveries to people in the Lowdham area. This has helped build a more vibrant community which celebrated VE Day in style and is now establishing a strong group to make Lowdham more resilient to flooding.

Sarah Edwards (2012 Scholar)

For a while I was looking after Alfie, a friend’s dog, since she went on holiday before the lockdown and hasn’t been able to get over to collect him. He kept me going by keeping me company and making sure I got out for my daily exercise with him!

Sheridan Chilvers (2011 Scholar)

I have spent some of lockdown putting my printer to good use by producing 3D printed PPE for frontline staff. I run Creative-Dimensions, an educational business that promotes digital skills for young people. Whilst schools were in lockdown, I produced over 100 ear protectors for healthcare workers, ambulance teams and the police.

Rachel Armitage (2016 Scholar)

I decided that lockdown would be the perfect time to try and learn a new skill. So, when I tired of quizzes, puzzle books and jigsaws, I bought a beginners knitting set from Etsy. After much unravelling and starting again, I finally managed to produce something vaguely resembling a scarf. What’s more, it was such a hit with my friends that I’ve been “commissioned” to whip up a few more – not a bad achievement from my sofa!

Management Team

In addition to their new lockdown activities, the management committee have kept up their monthly meetings, switching to Zoom to ensure everybody stays safe and healthy. It’s been a challenging period, especially with the decision to postpone recruitment for the scholarship, but the team remain optimistic for the future and committed to helping steer the scholarship through this latest of storms.


We were thrilled when 1961 Roosevelt Scholar, Penny Wesson, kindly recounted some memories of her scholarship experience with us. Here, Penny writes about meeting Mrs Roosevelt and hobnobbing with movers and shakers in the 60s performing arts scene…

I was one of the three lucky Nottingham Roosevelt Scholarship winners in 1961, the other two being John Butt, who worked for Boots, and Peter Lamin, a farmer. I was on the administrative team at the Nottingham Playhouse.

John and I travelled together at the beginning of August on HMS Queen Elizabeth, a five day journey that in every way was astonishing to me – the first time anyone in my family had been abroad, let alone on an iconic liner across an ocean for a five month adventure.

We had each made our own itinerary for our travels throughout the States, but first we had a few days in New York and an invitation to stay with Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt at her home, Val-Kill, on the Hyde Park Estate, upstate New York. The weekend was delightful and very relaxed, with a kindness and hospitality from our hostess that was replicated in so many of my encounters to follow.

Mrs Roosevelt provided introductions to various friends and relatives around America and as so often happens, one contact leads to another. One happy connection was with Mayris Martin, an old friend of hers, who lived in Los Angeles (and was married to Hershey Martin, an agent with the William Morris Agency – about which I knew nothing at the time but coincidentally went on to work for in London in 1965, for nearly twenty years).

Mayris in turn gave me an introduction to her old dancing partner, Eddie Fox, who was the Manager and often Producer of the shows at the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, which became a new stop for the itinerary.

I arrived at the bus station in Las Vegas and made straight for a public telephone to book a room at the YWCA – but there wasn’t one, so I scoured the yellow pages to find somewhere I could afford.  Once I’d made a reservation I hauled myself and two large and heavy bags (no wheels in those days) into a taxi, asking the driver to take me to the Carver House Hotel. After a while the driver asked me if I knew I was heading to “the only all-black hotel in town”? (Formal segregation had been lifted by this time, but social expectations persisted about which I was evidently naïve.) He suggested I might feel more comfortable elsewhere and would I like him to suggest another hotel and if so what could I afford? I quoted what I usually paid at a Y, which raised an eyebrow, but pulling up outside the nice-looking Moulin Rouge Hotel he went in for a few minutes and came out to say I now had a room for my price. Being young, on my own, and having an English accent which was still something of a rarity then, all no doubt helped, but it was that warm helpfulness and generosity I was experiencing again.

The Silver Slipper is no more, sadly. It was right in the middle of The Strip, not a large building nor anything like as glamorous as the glittering palaces all around, but it had a splendid silver slipper picked out in lights on the roof and a warm welcome inside. Eddie Fox could not have been more hospitable. After coffee and a shower of Silver Slipper mementoes including key ring dice, packs of miniature playing cards and packets of matches all decorated with the Silver Slipper logo, I kept him company while we walked to his nearby apartment to collect something. The furnishing was sparse – your hours are long if you work in a casino – but I never saw more piles of books leaning in piles against the walls, with titles like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie, who was widely read at the time.

Back at the Silver Slipper Eddie gave me lunch and then showed me into the theatre to watch the afternoon’s entertainment featuring a company of very pretty girls, singers and dancers, and some comedians led by Sparky Kaye who that afternoon was dressed as a nurse and called himself “Penny Wesson, from Nottingham, England.”

It was all wonderfully larky and daft and I loved it. Afterwards I went backstage to meet the company and thank Sparky, adding that if he should come to England to let me know and he might like to come up to Nottingham.

To my delighted surprise Sparky did just that. He visited London the following year when he made a 24 hour detour to Nottingham. I booked him a room at the very nice and central Black Boy Hotel (a name not even of its time then – it was changed a few years later). I let the Evening Standard know that Sparky Kaye, star of the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas, whom I’d met while I was on the Nottingham Roosevelt Travelling Scholarship, was coming to Nottingham later that week and I would be meeting him off the train at the Midland Station. The Standard sent a cheerfully creative photographer who asked me to sit on one of those very wide luggage trolleys waving my arms about and being pulled along by a rope hauled by Sparky, acting like a labouring porter. The photograph appeared in the paper that night. We got together a few hours later when my parents took us all out to dinner, Sparky, my twelve-year-old brother, Nigel, and me. I wish I could claim that the evening was a wild success but perhaps that was too much to expect at a first meeting between people who had such very different life experiences. We had a very good meal and got along well enough, which was grand. That Sparky should have made the trip up to Nottingham was wonderful – and here I am, nearly sixty years later, metaphorically raising a glass to Sparky, a very game guy, who gave me some wonderful memories, as did so many I met on my travels round America, thanks to Nottingham’s wonderful scholarship tribute to Franklin D Roosevelt.



Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 we have had to suspend this year’s recruitment and events programme. This included our new Stakeholder event, which would have provided an opportunity to engage with local businesses, as well as our traditional summer Celebration event.

Not to be completely defeated by the pandemic, we are currently exploring the possibility of holding a virtual Thanksgiving event in November and will provide further details in due course.

  • Stakeholder Event – Postponed
  • Celebration Event – Postponed.
  • Thanksgiving Event – Nov 2020 – TBC


Over the May Bank Holiday weekend, three Scholars participated in the ‘Nottstopping’ Festival, which was created to raise money for the NHS. It was a fantastic online programme of events and activities from people from Nottinghamshire. The three Scholars who took part were:

  • Sam Preston (2019) who participated in a panel discussion on developing a sustainable city;
  • Debs Stevenson (2011) who shared a beautiful poem;
  • Simeon Hartwig (2009) who delivered a workshop on how to develop a t-shirt brand.

As ever, it was wonderful to see scholarship alumni sharing their expertise for the benefit of the local area, as well as, in this case, the NHS.


As part of our ongoing efforts both to promote the scholarship in perpetuity and to celebrate the experiences of scholars past, we are looking to add to our archive of stories and memorabilia from Roosevelt scholars across the years.

If you would like to share some memories of your time on the scholarship, or even perhaps some photographs, news clippings or diary entries, we would be delighted to hear from you.

You can reach out to us by email ( or by telephone (07767-797-335) to provide some anecdotes from your scholarship or to arrange a more in depth call with a member of our management committee.

Thank you so much in advance for helping us to plug the gaps in the scholarship’s history and ensuring that the incredible experiences from your scholarship aren’t lost to the past.



The scholarship is undergoing planning to make a number of changes in the coming months. If there are any alumni with specific skills that could help, then please get in touch with Russ on 07767-797-335. Specifically, we are looking for help with social media, marketing and legal issues.

The Scholarship is now funded largely by gifts made by our unique network of Alumni – from the returning scholars who donate each month through a standing order, to the couple who now give more than £2,000 a year. Please consider joining them if you can, both in memory and tribute of your own scholarship and of the many special people who made your journey something you will always treasure.  To become part of the Alumni network who now enable others in this way, please fill in the simple form below to set up a regular gift via standing order, (and also a gift aid declaration to enable the scholarship to reclaim tax on every penny that we can). Thank you.

A NEW DONATE Paypal button is now available on the website. The button is a HASSLE-FREE option that will enable you to make a one-off payment or a regular donation without having to cut, complete and send a form.

There’s no reason not to donate now ?


Donate to the Scholarship 

Donation and Gift Aid Form

Name and address of your bank (including postcode)



Instructions to your bank:  Please make payments and debit my/our account number:

…………………………………………………, Sort Code: ………………………………………. to the account of Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship (Account 96876077, Nat West Bank, Nottingham City Branch, Unit 27, Victoria Centre, Nottingham NG1 3QD, Sort code 60-80-09) with the sum of: £10, £25, £50 Other £ ……. per month until further notice, starting on …………………………… or as soon thereafter. Please quote reference …………………………………………….(to be inserted by NRMTS),

In order to Gift Aid your donation please tick the box below.

 I want to Gift Aid my donation and any donations I make in the future or have made in the past 4 years to Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship (Charity number 512941). I am a UK taxpayer and understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year it is my responsibility to pay any difference.

Signature(s): ……………………………………………………….. Date: …………………………… (today’s date)


Your name (capitals please) (Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms): ………………………………………………………….

Address (capitals please): ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


…………………………………………………………………….. Postcode: …………………………………………

Please return this form to NRMTS at the following address:

Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship

c/o Treasurer – Russ Blenkinsop, Willow Cottage, 8 The Corner, Lowdham, Notts NG14 7AE



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