A legacy of learning

Find out how the generosity of one couple, who met at Nottingham, is helping students with autism prepare for life on campus.

Trevor and Vera Bottomley

It was Trevor (French and English, 1955) and Vera (French and German, 1955) Bottomley’s shared love of the university where they met which led them to make an incredibly generous gesture to support its students – one with a very personal resonance.

The transition from school to university is one of the biggest steps into adulthood we take in our lives. For many it will be a potentially daunting experience already, but for anyone living with a disability it will seem only more so.

Thanks to the university’s wonderful Disability Support Services team, there is help immediately at hand. The team aims to create an inclusive and equitable teaching and learning environment to the benefit of all students.

Its specialist service provides student-led support to enable disabled students to flourish as independent learners. One of its services supports students with autism.

Charlotte Round, Disability Adviser, explains how the summer school offered by the team helps to make a real difference: “We aim to give students the tools and information they need to reach their potential, and hopefully to ease anxieties before they make the move to university. Autistic students are recognised as a group of students for whom the transition to university can be especially challenging.

"This event has been running for five years and has supported over 150 students so far. As student attendance at the event continues to rise, we hope to continue meeting the needs of our incoming autistic students and to continue growing and developing our transition programme.

Student voices

Here’s what some of the students who have benefited from the summer school had to say:

“I enjoyed it and found it very useful for helping me to learn more about the university, so thank you all!”

“Knowing that help is available is always reassuring and should be something every new student gets informed about.”

“Everyone was very nice, and I did find it helpful to settle some nerves!"

And so, to Trevor and Vera Bottomley, whose connection to the university led them to make the incredible gesture of leaving a legacy to Nottingham in their Will. For Vera, who passed away in 2021, the idea of helping students with disabilities resonated incredibly strongly, as Trevor explains: "Our eldest son, Martin, who is now 61, was born with cerebral palsy and has spent his entire life in a wheelchair. He has full mental capacity, but his muscle control is such that he cannot articulate words clearly, so speech is a real problem.

"For two linguists this has not been easy, but we developed all kinds of ways to communicate with him. It seemed fitting to all of us, and I know to Vera, that her legacy will support the Autism Summer School, since communication and togetherness were very dear to her."

Be a Guiding Light

If your affection for Nottingham matches that of Trevor and Vera, please consider leaving a Gift in your Will and become a Guiding Light to others.