Vision Sports Ireland has announced Oliver Gunning from Ballyclare Co. Antrim as the recipient of the inaugural Education Bursary proudly supported by Mason, Hayes & Curran.

Gunning is currently completing his first-year studies in BSc Hons Sport, Physical Education and Professional Education at the University of Stirling.

He is aspiring to assist others facing similar challenges that he encountered growing up with a vision impairment and is a passionate advocate for sports, especially for individuals with disabilities.

In addition to his busy academic life, he also represents Ireland in Triathlon on the world stage.

“Representing Northern Ireland in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games was a defining moment in my journey,” he said.

It proved that I could be more than just a visually impaired kid unable to participate in PE or traditional sports. Sports provided me with confidence and a drive to succeed in all aspects of life.

“However, achieving success in sports required careful time management to strike the right balance between education and athletics.”

The Vision Sports Ireland Education Bursary is aimed at supporting students with a vision impairment to pursue their academic goals by providing financial assistance of up to €2,000 per annum for the duration of their undergraduate degree up to a maximum of €8,000.

The bursary is open to all Vision Sports Ireland members who are registered blind or vision impaired and studying within Ireland or the UK.

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The bursary is part of Vision Sports Ireland’s ongoing commitment to promoting sport and physical activity opportunities for people who are blind, and vision impaired in Ireland. The organisation recognises the challenges that people with vision impairments face in accessing third level education within the sport and physical activity faculty, including the financial burden of pursuing higher education. The bursary aims to help alleviate some of these pressures by providing financial assistance to students who are blind or vision impaired.

This initiative is supported by Mason Hayes & Curran who have kindly provided a financial contribution to allow Vision Sports Ireland to support and invest in the future of the next generation.

“We have long held the belief that education is one of the most powerful tools to reduce barriers and promote equity of access to education,” said Will Carmody, Managing Partner at Mason Hayes & Curran.

That’s why, through this new initiative in partnership with Vision Sports Ireland, we are very pleased to support Oliver as he enters third-level education and training. We are excited to follow Oliver’s journey through education and sport over the coming years.”

“We are delighted to have Oliver as our first recipient of our Education Bursary,” added Padraig Healy of Vision Sports Ireland.

“We believe that everyone should have access to higher education and this bursary is part of our ongoing commitment to foster opportunities for youths with vision impairment and the launch of this initiative complements our Youth Leadership and Youth Forum programmes where we strive to support our members to become the leaders of tomorrow.”