In July the University of Sussex advertised the scholarship in Harry’s memory for the academic year 2020-21. At the end of October the School of Life Sciences confirmed that the scholarship had been awarded to a student starting the MSc in Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology. We hope to be able to provide further information shortly.
Although Repton School’s traditional Speech Day could not go ahead due to the restrictions necessitated to deal with Coronavirus, the school was still able to record the highlights and achievements of the year in its Prizewinners Programme. The recipient of the Biology Prize established in Harry’s memory by his family was Sam Turner, who like Harry was a member of Latham House.
Sam applied to study medicine at Imperial College London. It was therefore a cause for celebration when Repton’s announcement of its pupils’ University destinations included the news that “all those applying for Medicine and Veterinary Science have been accepted”. Congratulations Sam.
On 27 February Harry’s parents, Becky and Matthew, travelled down to the University of Sussex to attend a reception for current students in receipt of scholarships at the University’s Meeting House. This provided them with an opportunity to meet the first recipient of the Harry Lownds Memorial Scholarship, Ieva Didziokaite. [Scholars’ Celebration 2020 – University of Sussex Events]
At the time of the Scholars’ Celebration Ieva had started work on a practical project on the recently identified Ebola virus species Bombali, using pseudotype systems to develop a potential vaccine against this pathogen. Unfortunately when Coronavirus triggered a national lockdown a few weeks later the University was forced to halt all in-person studies. In May Ieva returned to Lithuania where she has been working on her MSc dissertation, a literature review about candidate vaccines against Ebola virus and antivirals which have previously been observed to be effective against it.
To mark what would have been Harry’s 23rd birthday his aunt, Stephanie Allen, completed a real ‘Challenge for Harry’ – an 80km run from Bondi to Manly. Thank you Steph.
The Beldam Hall of Repton’s Music School was packed out on Saturday 7 March for a charity concert in memory of Harry. The evening brought together many of his contemporaries at Repton and Foremarke Hall (Repton’s prep school) along with music teachers from both schools and family friends to raise money for the child bereavement counselling services of The Laura Centre in Derby.
The audience was treated to a fabulous programme from a very accomplished group of performers, who could easily have filled the time available ten times over. The evening was bookended by Harry’s fellow old boys from Latham House joining his younger sister Evie and other current members of Repton’s close-harmony group the Reptiles for a rendition of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’, and former members of Foremarke Winds reuniting to play ‘‘Tequila’ and the theme from Wallace & Gromit.
Other highlights included Harry’s cousin, Louis Allen, performing Debussy’s Clair de Lune and the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Latham old boys’ revival of their 2017 House Harmonies adaptation of the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back/ABC, and Wirksworth’s Raise Your Voices community choir’s rousing rendition of Bring Me Sunshine.
In all the evening raised £2,600 to support the work of The Laura Centre in Derby with bereaved children and those who have lost children at any point in their lives.
We have looked for various ways to celebrate Harry’s life over the last year and sustain his memory. Probably closest to our hearts is the idea of us each embracing a ‘Challenge for Harry’ as a legacy to him. We would like you all, young and young at heart to organise your own personal Challenge.
This can be done collectively or individually with the idea of taking the time to challenge ourselves in any manner of ways. All we ask is that you think of Harry whilst you doing your challenge. We will then add your achievements to Harry’s blog.
In July Becky, along with a team of friends and colleagues, plans to participate in the Peak District 100km UltraChallenge. Evie and Harry’s Grandma, Margaret Allen, will be joining them for the first 25km. They will be raising funds for the charity ‘Sepsis Research (FEAT)’ with the hope of collecting enough money to purchase a small piece of scientific apparatus that can have Harry’s name on it.
If you would like to raise money for Harry’s scholarship fund, or any of the other charities our family has been raising money for in his memory (The Laura Centre in Derby, Cruse Bereavement and Sepsis Research (FEAT)), whilst doing your challenge, this would be very much appreciated. But we would appreciate just as much you simply committing time and energy to your own personal challenge in Harry’s memory. We are more than happy to join in too, if you’d welcome some company.
Our warmest wishes,
Becky, Matthew, Rosie and Evie
We are very pleased to learn that Latham House, where Harry boarded during his five years at Repton School, have had a plaque made in his honour. It contains a proverb which James Dahl, Harry’s former Housemaster, used in his eulogy. It is in the main entrance to the house, so all the boys will see it every time they walk into the house. Latham’s current Housemaster, Martin Hunt, felt it was a quote which really resonated with Harry, and the spirit of the house – so a fitting reminder for all the boys whether they knew Harry of not.
The first scholarship to be awarded in Harry’s memory was announced by Sussex University on 1 July, alerting students planning to register for its Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology MSc of the opportunity for a graduate whose personal circumstances might otherwise hinder them from taking up their place to receive £3,000 in additional financial support. The University, Harry’s former course-mates and contacts he had made through placements at the MRC Mammalian Genetics Laboratory in Harwell and at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford made sure that the scholarship was widely advertised among potential MSc Genetics students.
Harry’s family were very pleased to learn at the beginning of September that the University had decided to award the scholarship to a recent graduate of the University of Coventry, Ieva Didziokaite. During her Biomedical Sciences degree Ieva spent a placement year back in her homeland of Lithuania as part of the Erasmus+ programme working for Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics. There she gained molecular genetics experience and she is now looking forward to expanding her knowledge and skills with a view to pursuing her passion for genetics research in the future. Her aspiration is to work for the 100,000 Genomes or subsequent projects, analysing whole genome sequences in rare diseases and cancer, and to see how personalised medicine can change the world’s healthcare systems.
As a result of fundraising efforts by Harry’s family and friends in the six months since his death over £14,500 has now been raised towards the Scholarship Fund. This should allow a scholarship to be awarded in his memory through to at least 2023 – and his family intends to continue fundraising to ensure that this can be sustained for many years to come.
“In our house, reading was the primary group activity. On Saturday afternoons we curled up with our books in the den. It was the best of both worlds: you had the animal warmth of your family right next to you, but you also got to roam around the adventure-land inside your own head.”
The scene described by Susan Cain in her best-selling book ‘Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ could just as well have been of the Lownds family. Harry in particular loved books with an abiding passion. While boarding at Foremarke Hall he was asked one weekend if he had any books which needed to be returned to the school library. “Not really” came the reply, but with that tell-tale twinkle in his eye which so often suggested that there might just be something more to the situation than Harry was giving away. Lo and behold, 10 minutes later, a sum total of 22 library books were found amongst Harry’s possessions, at which point he calmly said, “Well, that’s not too many – is it?”. In preparing for the family’s move to Moscow in January, Harry similarly packed only the bare essentials: five shelf feet of his favourite books (leaving his bedroom bookshelves merely double-stacked).
It seemed natural, therefore, for Harry’s family to establish a book prize in his memory linked to his other great passion: the Life Sciences. The ‘Harry Lownds Biology Prize’ is to be awarded each summer at Repton School’s Speech Day to the Upper Sixth form pupil who has made the most effort in their approach through the two year A-level biology course.
Family members and friends were proud to be in the Speech Day audience on 29 June when the first prize was presented to Katherine Carr. A few weeks later August’s GCSE results day prompted the Lownds family to catch up with the news feed on the school website where they were very pleased to learn that Katherine had got the A-level grades she needed to be accepted into Edinburgh University’s medical school. Harry would have been wearing his habitual Cheshire Cat grin too.