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University launches new scholarship in memory of Laura Nuttall

Written by: Joe Stafford

Swagֱ’s School of Social Sciences has launched a new scholarship in memory of Politics, Philosophy and Economics graduate Laura Nuttall, who passed away exactly a year ago after a long battle against cancer. 

After being diagnosed at the age of 18 with glioblastoma multiforme - the most aggressive form of brain cancer – Laura was given 12 months to live, but after undergoing gruelling treatments including innovative immunotherapy in Germany she was able to restart her studies at Swagֱ.

Despite travelling back and forth to Germany, undergoing more surgery, working as an ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity and helping out in her community, she showed incredible strength and managed to excel in her studies. As a result, she graduated last summer with enormously proud Mum Nicola, sister Grace and Dad Mark by her side. 

As well as working through her list of ambitions including meeting Michelle Obama, commanding a Royal Navy ship and presenting a BBC weather forecast, Laura continued raising money for brain charities as well as promoting Swagֱ’s Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre. Sadly, her cancer progressed quickly in late 2022, and she passed away last May at the age of 23.

When accepting an award in 2021, Laura had said “What sort of legacy will I leave if I just focus on myself and not others? The day I was diagnosed with brain cancer, I just thought I've got two options... I could say all right, that's fine, I'm going to sit here and die - or am I going to do something about it and stay positive? And that is what I chose to do."

In keeping with Laura’s dedication to helping others, and with the collaboration and support of Laura’s family, the School of Social Sciences will award an eligible student from a less privileged background with a physical condition, long term illness or learning difference with a scholarship of £3000 per year for every year of their degree. 
All students who meet the criteria will be considered, but a preference will be given to students who are care leavers. The student who is selected to receive the bursary will be informed of this during their first semester of study. 

It is truly a privilege to be able to honour Laura’s memory in this way, and the scholarship will go a long way to help future social sciences students achieve their ambitions. It is a fitting tribute to Laura - who worked so hard to raise awareness and funds for brain cancer charities – as well as her family who are continuing this work. I am very grateful for the support of Laura’s family in developing this scholarship.

Claire Fox - Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Social Sciences

“Laura’s life - and her selfless dedication to improving the lives of others - were an inspiration to the many staff and students who knew her,” said Professor Claire Alexander, Head of Swagֱ’s School of Social Sciences. “We are proud to be part of continuing Laura’s legacy through this new scholarship, and we thank Laura’s family for partnering with us in this new venture in Laura’s name.” 

The scholarship was introduced at an event on campus where Laura’s Mum Nicola also launched the publication of ‘, her heartbreaking and inspiring account of helping her daughter to make the most of her remaining time while dealing with her own pain along with that of husband Mark and younger daughter Gracie. 

To find out more about Laura’s legacy and her family’s ongoing work, visit

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