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Enigma codebreaker leaves over £3 million to Aberystwyth University for research

13 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure (centre) and Dr Eva De Visscher, Trusts and Foundations Manager at Aberystwyth University (second from right) mark the new Joy Welch endowment with researchers who have received support from the Trust (left to right) Dr Valerie Rodrigues (Life Sciences), Dr Alice Vernon (English and Creative Writing), Professor Stephen Tooth (Geography and Earth Sciences), Tracy Knight, Dr Sarah Dalesman and Dr Rhys Thatcher (Life Sciences), and Dr Rachel Cross (Physics).

An Aberystwyth graduate who contributed to the breaking of the German Enigma code during the Second World War has left over £3m to her former University.

Originally from Galgate near Lancaster, Joy Welch studied Economics, Geography and Philosophy at Aberystwyth and graduated in 1950.

In 1943, aged 17, she volunteered for the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the work took her to Eastcote, an outpost of Bletchley Park.

There she operated the machines used to break the German Enigma code.

In 1988 she established the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust and the University became a regular beneficiary, reflecting her fond memories of her time at Aberystwyth.

Her long-term support was recognised in 1998 when she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University. She died in 2017.

The new endowment totalling £3.15m from the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust was announced today (13 October) by Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure at the University’s annual Founders Day celebrations.

Research grants

With the first call for applications due in spring 2024, the fund will provide a minimum of 12 research grants a year for postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers across all disciplines at Aberystwyth University.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure said; “We are absolutely delighted that the ongoing relationship with one of our alumni has supported researchers across disciplines and ranks for so many years. The endowment will make sure that this support continues. In a world where research funding programmes change, favouring certain academic fields and types of projects at different times, the Joy Welch Fund will offer opportunities to all our researchers and so make a valuable difference”.

In addition to supporting postgraduate and postdoctoral research, the Trust has also contributed £170,000 towards establishing the Joy Welch Seminar Room in the Old College.

Over the years, the Trust has provided over £400,000 to fund research at Aberystwyth University.

Dr Sarah Dalesman and Dr Sebastian McBride from the Department of Life Sciences have been studying the cognitive abilities of dogs and how they can impact the safety and welfare of dog training.

Dr Dalesman said; “The Joy Welch funding this year has enabled us to buy equipment and employ a student who now plans to pursue a masters’ in this field. It has also led to future research plans to study how, using non-invasive techniques, stress affects dogs’ cognitive ability and performance.”

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Philip Davies
Philip Davies
5 months ago

Wonderful news for one of the finest universities anywhere!

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