Inspirational student speaks at charity dinner

MChem Chemistry student, Rebecca Lane, suffered a disrupted childhood. With help from charity Norwood, she was able to overcome adversity and achieve her goals.

"The charity Norwood helps thousands of vulnerable families and children every year with special needs", Rebecca explains. "They have been a huge support to me throughout my life. I grew up having lived in 16 homes in 14 years including council estates and B&Bs, along with my special needs brother and sister. I was the carer for them growing up as my parents weren’t capable of looking after us. As a child, Norwood gave me clothes and bunk beds when we were sleeping on the floor because we couldn’t afford anything."

Norwood was there for Rebecca when her parents abandoned her at the age of 14. "They provided me with counselling sessions in school to help me come to terms with what had happened", she says. "As I got older, I was performing well at school and expressed a desire to go to University. With no legal guardians, an independent student, I had no money to even buy cutlery and bedding for University. Norwood put me in contact with organisations that give scholarships as well as giving me money to buy student essentials. This, together with a University of Leeds scholarship allowed me to go to University where I’m now a fourth year Chemistry student doing my Masters project, having completed a placement year at AstraZeneca."

On the 14th November, Rebecca delivered the appeal speech at Norwood’s annual charity dinner in front of 1000 people at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. "At the dinner, I spoke publicly about my story and how Norwood impacted my life. Attendees at this dinner included Judge Rinder, Greg Rutherford, Darcey Bussell and Lady Nicola Mendelsohn. The appeal speech received a standing ovation and raised £2.75 million for the charity. It was truly an amazing experience, something I will never forget."

"There are scholarships available for underprivileged students at Leeds and charities that recognise that potential comes in different forms. Without the help of the Leeds Scholarship (Pathways for Potential) and Norwood, I would not be at university now and looking to do a PhD in the future."

"This was the first time my story has ever been said publicly. I hope that through doing this speech, I can inspire young people to not let their background dictate their future. Anything is possible."