Grants and Awards
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Cavers and clubs are able to apply for grants or other support for caving-related projects from a wide range of organisations. The list here is intended to raise awareness of these; all are known to have supported caving ventures in the past, or have specifically confirmed that caving as a sport is eligible. Please note that this list does not include short-term or one-off competitions or schemes; rather, it represents organisations which have shown a long-term commitment, most usually with annual awards, and has a UK bias. The various annual awards presented to cavers to promote excellence are also included.
Caving-specific awards and grants
ALEX PITCHER AWARD
An award granted by the Ghar Parau Foundation to young cavers to help finance their participation in their first expedition, in memory of Alex Pitcher.
ARTHUR BUTCHER AWARD
An award presented annually by BCRA for 'excellence in cave surveying', in memory of Arthur Butcher, conferring a cash prize of £100 and a Miners' Dial Trophy to be held for one year. This is considered to be one of the UK's top annual caving awards that recognise excellence in a specific field of caving endeavour.
CAVE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INITIATIVE
A BCRA initiative to support science and technology research projects involving caving, in particular (but not limited to) the fields of archaeology/palaeontology, biology, speleogenesis and technology.
GHAR PARAU FOUNDATION
A caving charity supporting expeditions, with two rounds of awards made each year, in February and September. Support is given to expedition teams from the foundation's own resources and, in addition, recommendations for fund allocation are made for BCA monies. The foundation also supports young cavers with the Alex Pitcher Award. The foundation may put forward some expeditions which take place at altitude for consideration by the Mount Everest Foundation; this may confer support by name or, more rarely, financial support in recognition of the special nature of such expeditions. Applications from caving expeditions are not made direct to the MEF.
GILES BARKER AWARD
An award recognising excellence in, and promoting improvement of, any aspect of cave photography and funded by the Morgannwg CC and Red Rose CPC in memory of Giles Barker. Final decisions and the presentation are normally made at the annual Hidden Earth conference. The prestigious award is a piece of artwork, currently created by Ceris Jones, that is retained by the winner. This is considered to be one of the UK's top annual caving awards that recognise excellence in a specific field of caving endeavour.
JRAT'S DIGGING AWARD
An award going to the club or group that discovers and surveys the most cave passage on Mendip within a year, being presented at the Hunters' Lodge Inn in memory of Tony 'J-Rat' Jarratt on the weekend closest to his birthday. The competition runs from 1 November to 31 October; the winner's name is engraved on the trophy, which hangs in the pub.
An award recognising excellence in, and promoting improvement of, UK-linked caving publications. It is funded by the Ghar Parau Foundation, but is judged by a panel of three independent cavers. The prestigious prize is a piece of artwork, many of which were created by Mark 'Gonzo' Lumley but are currently produced by Ceris Jones, that is retained by the winner. This is considered to be one of the UK's top annual caving awards that recognise excellence in a specific field of caving endeavour. An article on the award appeared in Descent (219).
UK CAVE CONSERVATION EMERGENCY FUND
A charitable fund administered by BCRA to support emergencies linked with cave conservation. Funding is often in the form of a loan, but grants may also be available.
YOUNG RESEARCHER OF THE YEAR AWARD
A single award of £500 granted annually by BCRA to the most exciting research project completed by a young person in that year.
General awards and grants
ROLEX AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE
Rolex Awards are open to any individual undertaking an exceptional project involving a 'spirit of enterprise, originality and potential impact' in the fields of science, technology, exploration, environmental conservation or cultural heritage. Separate awards are made for young people.
WELSH SPORTS ASSOCIATION OVERSEAS EXPEDITION GRANTS
The Welsh Sports Association offers grants to support overseas expeditions; specifically mentioned are caving and cave diving. Applicants/expeditions must have a link to Wales to gain an award, which must be applied for by the end of the year preceding the trip.
WHITLEY FUND FOR NATURE
A charity making substantial awards to individuals who demonstrate they have a sustainable project that involves nature conservation and people; support may extend beyond the initial award. Projects must not be in 'high income' countries; the UK is excluded. Applications must be made by the end of October each year. Substantial support went to a caving project in 2011; see Descent (220) for further information.
A Bristol-based lecture series which offers an annual cash award to a UK resident in return for a lecture upon the successful applicant's return. The closing date for applications is the end of November each year.
WINSTON CHURCHILL MEMORIAL TRUST
The trust offers a number of Travelling Fellowships for individuals, funding travel and other costs for projects typically lasting between four and eight weeks. A selection of themed categories are offered annually. The closing date for applications is the beginning of October each year.