In 2011, in memory of Don Whitton (one of the earliest and most active members of Gabriola Players), we established an annual bursary to provide financial assistance to islanders pursuing the study of some aspect of theatre arts. In late September Don’s wife Sue presented a cheque to the parents of David Cosbey, who earlier in the month began his first year of Theatre Studies at the University of Victoria. His mother Virginia read the following statement from David:
“I would like to thank Gabriola Players and the Whitton family for the wonderful support they have given me in the form of the Don Whitton Memorial Bursary. This past summer was extremely hard for me, as I had jaw surgery and therefore I wasn’t able to work at a summer job to earn money for school. I am so, so grateful for the kindness you have shown me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I’m terribly sorry that university classes prevent me from returning home to Gabriola to accept the Bursary in person, but my parents will be there to represent me and convey my deep appreciation.”
David’s father Tim also spoke movingly about the general dearth of bursaries and scholarships available for theatre students and how validated the awarding of the Don Whitton bursary made David feel about his decision to pursue his thespian passion.
The original bursary amount was established as $500. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Whitton family and their friends, this amount was more than doubled. The $500 basic bursary will, as of next month, be topped up with 100% of the money made selling cookies (donated by Village Food Market) at all Gabriola Players performances.