Heather Douglas at China's Summer Palace

The first recipients of a new travel bursary have been helped to access unique opportunities, thanks to a donation made in memory of an outstanding engineer.

Designed to fund travel for academic or cultural purposes, over the next four years the Bernard F Willetts Travel Awards will continue to help two maths, sciences or engineering students each year meet their travel costs.

This summer, Heather Douglas and James Kendrick both received the Award. Heather spent two weeks in China, meeting students from Huazhong University of Science and Technology who will be attending the University of Birmingham this academic year. James travelled to Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage and then to Tanzania where he joined a group from Birmingham's Carnival RAG, climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of Practical Action.

Bernard (Bill) Willetts (BSc Mechanical Engineering, 1945) was himself a recipient of financial support from the Ferguson family during his studies at Birmingham and Durham. He went on be recognised among his peers as a captain of industry. His high profile roles included deputy managing director of Massey-Ferguson, deputy chief executive of the Plessey Group and chairman of Plessey Telecommunications, and managing director of Vickers.

Bill’s son David decided to create the award in his father’s memory, supporting future generations of students in their studies at Birmingham.

David said: ‘We are delighted that Heather and James had such a productive time over the summer and we hope others like us will be encouraged to make similar awards in memory of their relatives. We are pleased to be able to pass on the torch of academic excellence to the younger generation.’

For more information about leaving your legacy to Birmingham, please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/alumni/giving/givenow.aspx