Colin O'Dare Bursary 2023


Neisha Ayris has been awarded the Colin O'Dare Bursary for 2023, recognising her exceptional accomplishments and commitment to personal and professional growth. Neisha, a remarkable individual, has not only excelled academically but has also made a profound impact on local 14–16-year-old learners within the County.


Comments from Tracey Bryant - Learning and Development Manager at Valero Energy.
Neisha has come into the industry having pursued a family life prior to gaining her place on the Valero apprenticeship programme. Neisha has become an ambassador for female apprentices and women in engineering. We see this daily in the passion, personal commitment and high standards Neisha has demonstrated through College studies, learning, working on-site and through her involvement in the College school presentations, the women’s network and volunteering activities within Valero. I know that Neisha has the potential for a fantastic career ahead and I am excited to see what the future holds.


Neisha's journey has been one characterised by resilience and determination. After embarking on a degree in geology, Neisha chose to prioritise starting a family, a decision that required her to temporarily pause her studies. However, her unyielding passion for education led her back to complete her geology degree, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to both her personal and academic goals.


Although initially unsuccessful in securing an apprenticeship with Valero, Neisha took the opportunity to learn from the experience and gain valuable insights. Her commitment and hard work were recognised when she was offered an apprenticeship in process operations with a disciplinary focus on instrumentation and control at Valero. Having had 10+ years out of education, Neisha faced numerous challenges but emerged stronger and more determined. Neisha's determination is reflected in her remarkable achievements, earning distinctions in every engineering unit she has studied to date. This remarkable feat not only demonstrates her aptitude for engineering but also her tenacity, resilience and commitment to personal growth.


Despite the demands of her everyday life, Neisha's quiet demeanour belies her extraordinary determination and strength. She has proven time and again that she possesses the tenacity and drive necessary to overcome any obstacle that comes her way. Neisha's ability to effectively manage her family life, additional part time jobs, academic pursuits, and professional commitments demonstrates her exceptional organisational skills and her capacity to handle multiple responsibilities simultaneously.



Neisha has served as a spokesperson for school learners entering STEM subjects, visiting local secondary schools to share her inspiring story. Neisha's visits aim to empower 14 to 16-year-old learners, assuring them that making mistakes is a natural part of life and learning process. She encourages them not to fear the challenges of STEM subjects but to embrace them as a means to make a meaningful difference. Neisha's dedication to championing females in technology is particularly noteworthy, as she serves as an ambassador for this cause during her school visits. The impact has been more females entering on to study engineering at Pembrokeshire College as well as an uptake in applications for apprenticeships.


Neisha is an exceptional candidate for the Freemasons Bursary, and her acceptance into higher education in September 2023 further reinforces her merit. Neisha wants a career where she can provide for her family and one that she is proud of. The financial support provided by the bursary will undoubtedly alleviate some of the burdens she faces, allowing her to focus wholeheartedly on her studies and continue to excel.


Thank you for considering Neisha for the Freemasons Bursary. Her unwavering determination, ability to juggle multiple responsibilities, and recent acceptance into higher education make her an outstanding candidate. I am confident that Neisha's quiet strength and exceptional work ethic will enable her to achieve great success in her academic and professional endeavours.


For Freemasons, for families, for everyone

The Masonic Charitable Foundation builds better lives by enabling opportunity, advancing healthcare and education and promoting independence for Freemasons, their families and the wider community.

Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the Masonic Charitable Foundation is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country.


How the Foundation helps Masonic families

 A wide range of help and support is available for Freemasons, their wives, partners, widows, children and grandchildren. Most of the support provided takes the form of financial grants to assist with financial, health or family related needs.


  • Daily living costs
  • Grants following an accident, redundancy or personal crisis
  • Funeral bills
  • Minor home repairs


  • Medical treatment
  • Dental treatment
  • Mobility aids and home adaptations
  • Counselling

Family – Children in full-time education

  • Costs for education or training
  • Scholarships, travel grants and student accommodation
  • Supporting exceptional talent in sport, music or the performing arts

Family – Care

  • Masonic care homes – including nursing, residential and dementia care
  • Respite care
  • UK holidays

Practical assistance

The Foundation’s Advice & Support Team offer confidential, impartial and practical guidance about the help we can provide. The Team can also help with applications for state and local authority benefits and can put you in touch with other organisations who can give advice on care, employment and education.

How to apply

For further information about the help and support available from the Foundation, please call their dedicated freephone enquiry line: 0800 035 60 90 or email  You can also write to Masonic Charitable Foundation, 60 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AZ

For more information about the Foundation’s grants and the application process, please visit:


How the Foundation helps communities

In addition to the support provided to Freemasons and their families, the Masonic Charitable Foundation looks beyond Freemasonry, making significant financial grants to charities that help people to live happy, fulfilled lives and to participate actively in society.

The charities supported make a significant and lasting difference to people in need.  We aim to benefit as many people as possible and further those causes about which Freemasons and their families have told us they are most passionate.

To find out more about the Foundation’s Community Support and Research grants, please visit:


Keep up to date with the Foundation’s work


Twitter:            @Masonic_Charity

Facebook:       @themcf

YouTube:        Masonic Charitable Foundation

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