Application submitted!

I have submitted my application for a Churchill Fellowship 2017!

After weeks of planning, writing, re-writing, getting sage advice and keeping myself awake at night thinking about it, I finally pressed “submit” on the final version.

Now the nervous wait begins to see if I am fortunate enough to get an interview.

Leigh with a cup of hot chocolate
A celebratory cup of cocoa after submitting.

Writing the application was pretty demanding. I’m very passionate about my project. But it was a challenge to distill it down into something succinct and clear that the section panel would immediately grasp and, hopefully, be enthused about!

I was incredibly fortunate to have some amazing support over the past two months.

My referees Ange Dwyer and Russell Kelly have been extremely supportive. Ange’s advice on the specifics of the application were really helpful.

I was also very lucky to get some truly insightful feedback from former Churchill Fellows: Clare Hawkins, Alison Black and Simone Walters. All three gave their advice willingly and generously which speaks well to the qualities of Churchill Fellows and the kind-hearted and supportive nature of the Trust.

And now I wait – and prepare for the interview, just in case I get one 🙂

Simone reckons it’s a “killer application” and I’m in with a “very good chance”. I certainly hope she’s right.

So while the application process has been a challenge, it has been a very enjoyable one. As Churchill himself said: “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”


Applying – by hook or by crook

I’ve been super crook this week. (‘Crook’ is Australian for unwell.) After returning from a weekend in Melbourne I came down with a shocking virus which has laid me up in bed for most of the week.

Leigh working on his application
Plugging away despite the virus

When not sleeping or feeling feverish (which is most of the time) I have managed to squeeze in a bit of work on my application.

With only six weeks to go before the submission deadline I feel a pressing need to keep plugging away at it, despite the virus.

I’ve been super fortunate to have some amazing help from a former Churchill fellow who has been sharing her ideas and experience with me.

I keep seeing that kind of generosity and openness among the Churchill Fellows. It just makes me want to be part of their tribe!

I’ve also been planning my potential itinerary as part of the application. The thought of being able to meet these amazing people in the US and Europe just blows me away!

I soooooo hope I get the chance to do this. I’m so excited about the potential of my project. And as the people said at the information evening, it would be life-changing.

Inspiring Australians

I could hardly believe my luck recently when I  discovered two thingInspiring Australianss:

  1. A book has very recently been published called Inspiring Australians: The First Fifty Years of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, by Penelope Hanley.
  2. It is available through my library in Hobart, Tasmania.

Naturally I reserved it immediately since I could scarely think of a better resource for researching about the Trust to help me prepare my application.

When the book arrived for collection a few days later I raced to the library (a bit nerdy but true) to take it out. Then I proceeded to read it cover to cover in four days. It’s 300 pages long so that’s pretty good going.

It’s an absolutely terrific read – wonderfully-written, engaging, well-paced, cleverly structured, very informed and, of course, inspiring.

I thought I’d track down the author to pass on my thoughts. Turns out Penelope is a communications professional, like me. She’s also a film critic, book reviewer, novelist and – naturally enough – a lover of Argentinian tango.

I found her email on the net and sent her a quick message. Next day she got back to me with this: “Thank you so much for your kind words about the book. Made my day!”

Very nice.


Time for action

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Sir Winston Churchill.2017_Churchill_Fellowships_Mrec_final

Several years ago a friend of mine – we’ll call her Sally – suggested I apply for a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Actually that’s not quite acurate. Sally was talking about her own great experience on a Churchill Fellowship and I’m afraid to say that I drifted away and started thinking about doing something like that myself one day.

But I like to remember that magical day as the moment that Sally unintentionally encouraged me to apply. I have a very active imagination, you see.

Fortunately I also have a good memory. So when I spotted a post on Facebook some years later promoting a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust information evening, I immediately knew what it was about. And I was very keen to find out more.

So on Thursday 23 February 2017 I attended an  event at The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania. Having no idea what to expect, I was stunned to find the room absolutely packed with people as eager as I was to learn more.

Do you ever get that feeling that you’re hanging out with ‘your people’, even if you don’t know anyone? Well, that’s pretty much what I felt like sitting in that theatrette.

All the speakers were busting at their seams with enthusiasm for their projects and kept repeating how the experience of doing a Fellowship had completely changed their lives. Each of them, in their own way, was utterly in love with their projects.

I have never felt so excited about the art of preserving old medals or monitoring wildlife populations as I was that night. For a short time afterwards I too wanted to travel to Holland to play the Baroque bassoon.

Their passion was infectious. I asked three questions – three times more than anyone else. I had to stop myself from asking more for fearing of being regarded as a well-meaning nuisance. But I did say hello to the presenters and the CEO of the Trust before racing home to shower my wife with an outpouring of enthusiasm.

Even at this early stage I had a very good idea of what my project would be about. But the details needed working on. And I now had until Friday 28 April to get the application done. Two months and counting.

Time to take some action, Mr Churchill.