Bader Grant Scheme 22-23 Update

In 2022 we made the difficult decision to conclude our Bader Braves Young Aviators initiative and concentrate on the grant giving aspect of the DBF. Herewith the Bader Grant Scheme 22-23 Update.

Closing the Young Aviators project was a difficult decision as it was a popular and very successful activity and one which was, of course, very close to Sir Douglas’s heart. Douglas had been passionate about flying for most of his life and an initiative combining that with his love of children and indomitable attitude seemed so fitting. However, we had had 12 successful – and, importantly, accident free – years; concerns were arising about the impact of aviation and other fuel on the environment and costs of piloting light aircraft were escalating so the time seemed right.

The Bader Grants Scheme, implemented in 1995, has been another very important aspect of the DBF support system for people living with both visible and invisible disabilities. Sir Douglas used to travel nationwide to visit and encourage people with disabilities, particularly amputees, and we always felt that a Grant Scheme in his name offering financial support to successful applicants to help them to fulfil a wide range of goals was an initiative that Sir Douglas would have approved of wholeheartedly. We decided to switch our focus to that project and since August 2022 have allocated grants to over 53 individuals, groups and fellow charities. Applications are wonderfully diverse and cover sports, education and the arts, support towards some assistive technology, as well as contributions towards life changing ambitions and challenges. They are limited only by the applicants’ imagination! It is both humbling and exciting to read applications that tell of determination, inspiration and the fierce desire for independence, and so gratifying to be able to help people living with disabilities to take a step closer to achieving dreams whether immediate or long-held, humble or ambitious, local or global!

It is impossible to say exactly how many people in total have benefitted from funding provided by The Douglas Bader Grant Scheme but it will run into hundreds if not thousands. Keith Delderfield – Bader Grants Scheme Director

The Bader Grants Committee, comprising of David Bickers, Wendy McCleave and Keith Delderfield, looks at all applications with those approved being recommended to our Trustees. Grants are then given out to successful applicants on a roughly quarterly basis.

We’re happy to support ongoing challenges by a previously successful applicant where appropriate and not in the same financial year and have seen some of the people we’ve supported complete a variety of exciting and diverse adventures. It is probably as rewarding for us to read about these ventures as it is for the participants completing them!

Since the demise of our Young Aviators Programme, the scheme has been run by the Bader Grants Committee with Keith Delderfield, Bader Grants Scheme Director, at the helm. Keith writes:


Over the last three years the DBF has been able to distribute some £250k through The Douglas Bader Grant Scheme and continues to support so many individuals and organisations that seek help and that fall within the criteria.

The grants awarded cover a vast range of subjects from education to sporting activities; from the arts to help with improving life. Some of the grants, particularly for organisations providing for groups of people, have been fairly substantial; others by comparison seem quite modest but each grant awarded has had a significant impact on its recipient in improving lives or helping them to achieve their own goals.

It is impossible to say exactly how many people in total have benefitted from funding provided by The Douglas Bader Grant Scheme but it will run into hundreds if not thousands. No matter how many that number may be The Douglas Bader Foundation is delighted and proud to have played a part in improving lives and are confident that each award would have met with Sir Douglas Bader’s wholehearted support as we now look forward to continuing our work into 2024.

(Keith Delderfield)

We are honoured that many of our Bader Grant recipients stay in touch with us and update us regularly and it’s always a treat to hear from them. The Grant Scheme is an aspect of the DBF of which we are very proud and we feel that every one of our recipients is an embodiment of Sir Douglas’s indomitable spirit and refusal to be held back, let alone defined, by his disability. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have come across these inspiring individuals.

You can read more about the Grant Scheme and applying for a grant yourself by following the link at the bottom of this post. You can also meet a few of the people we’ve helped via the Grant Recipients Page to get a sense of some of the diverse goals and dreams we’ve been able to support.

There will be more to follow but for now, here are a few stories to inspire. Why not get in touch and see if a Bader Grant can support your own journey. We’d love to hear from you and every application is considered.

Some of the varied applications received and individual goals we have helped towards in 22-23

  • 41 year old applicant with  bilateral hip dysplasia. Had done exceptionally well in para dressage being selected for the GB Para squad for 2024. In 2021 a serious accident caused her to lose her place in the team. Undaunted she took up carriage driving and was invited to join the British Para Carriage Driving team. She applied for a grant towards training and adaptive tack.
  • A standing frame for a pupil with profound and multiple learning difficulties to aid mobility and independence.
  • 2 separate requests for contributions towards the costs of training and competing in Para-surfing at national and international levels. Para-surfing is not (yet) a Paralympic sport and both applicants hope that they can help to raise the profile so that more people can take part.
  • Help towards the cost of a canal boat holiday for someone who, due to disabilities, generally has little contact with the outside world.
  • Assistance towards the costs of training and a sighted guide for an applicant who is registered deaf / blind and aiming to conquer the peak of Everest having already reached base camp in a previous expedition.
  • Help with costs of obtaining a gym/swimming pool membership to regain strength and fitness for an amputee who lost his leg in an RTA and was unable to continue with an apprenticeship.

This is just a very small selection from the diverse, moving and inspiring applications we received during 2022-2023.

Bader Grant Scheme 22-23 Update – Some news from 2 of the recent recipients

Millie Boo Smith:

Bader Grant Scheme 22-23 Update

We are delighted to learn that one of the recent cohorts of successful applicants, Para-Dressage rider Millie Boo Smith, has already made her mark in her sport. Millie was born 14 weeks early with cerebral palsy and bilateral deafness. She took up riding as a child partly as the activity has been shown to be beneficial to people with CP, discovered a natural aptitude for it and quickly grew to love it. She has been elected on to the Scottish Disability Sports Young Persons Panel “helping to shape disability sports across the country” and is keen to encourage other disabled youngsters by her own example. She successfully applied for a Bader Grant to cover the cost of competing in Para-Dressage events. We are proud and delighted to report that she has achieved a 2nd and 3rd place at the recent British Dressage Para Winter Championships – her first ever Para Championship! This is a terrific achievement for Millie and her horse George. They make a great team and we feel there’s no doubt they’re going to go far!

Bader Grant Scheme 2022-23 Update

I hope to inspire people to try new sports and give anything a go. Millie Boo Smith – Para Dressage rider

We’re so grateful to Millie for this lovely acknowledgement and couldn’t be happier to have been able to support her on her para-dressage journey. We have no doubt that, through her constant dedication and hard work, and the love of her sport (and, of course, George!)  she will go from strength and continue to inspire others as she does.

Congratulations from all at DBF, Millie!

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Jesse Dufton:

Jesse Dufton, a climber who is registered blind, first applied for a Bader Grant in 2017 to help towards costs involved in taking part in an expedition to the Stauning Alps in Arctic Greenland.

Our expedition ventured into unexplored areas of the remote Stauning Alps region in Central-Eastern Greenland. The team were self-sufficient throughout, carrying all kit, food, shelter, scientific instrumentation and travelled on skis, pulling pulks. A huge physical challenge in an extremely remote environment.

Our original objectives were threefold:

(1) Explore – to venture into unexplored areas and claim first ascents on new peaks.

(2) Research – to repeat measurements taken during the 1970s and to install a network of ablation stakes in the Roslin Glacier to observe the impacts of climate change.

(3) Inspire – I am registered as blind/severely sight impaired and despite the difficulties some of us must face, I want to show and inspire people that great adventures can be undertaken, showing disability has no barriers.

(1) Our route involved skiing up the Roslin Glacier and down the Bjørnbo Glacier in a new circular route, approximately 100km in length. (This route had been attempted before, but never successfully completed.) It required the crossing of 2 high cols with full pulks. We ventured into places never explored before and travelled through pristine remote environments, dealing with freezing temperatures down to -28oC. We experienced heavy snow and artic storms while out in the field, our camp was buried in snow on several occasions! We successfully climbed 2 new peaks and claimed first ascents on these mountains from the Bjørnbo Glacier. Climbs were made in full alpine style.” (Jesse Dufton)

When people find out that I’m blind, and that I climb, they often ask “How do you do it?” Well the honest answer is that I don’t know! I have always had extremely poor sight and thus I don’t know any different. Jesse Dufton – Climber

Bader Grant Scheme 2022-23 Update
The Old Man of Hoy – the past
Wadi Rum rock formation – the future

In 2020, he followed this achievement with a successful attempt to be the first blind person to make a ‘non-sight’ lead of the iconic Old Man of Hoy sea stack in Scotland.

We were delighted to hear from him again in September last year when he applied for a Bader Grant as a contribution towards the cost of leading a climbing group in Wadi Rum, Jordan.


Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the trip had to be postponed but, to keep us updated with his ongoing intrepid adventures, Jesse has kindly sent a link to an incredible film he featured in for Goretex which you can see via the link below.

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We will update you on Jesse’s Wadi Rum adventure when he is able to get there (good luck, Jesse) and on some more of our recent applicants shortly. Be sure to keep checking in…

We are so proud and humbled to have had the opportunity to support these and many other inspiring individuals through our Bader Grant Scheme. If you have a goal that you think we could help you to achieve, please get in touch with us to apply.

If you have already received a Bader Grant, please do keep in touch – we love to hear from you.

Applying for a Bader Grant

You can learn more about Bader Grants, meet a few of the previous Grant Recipients and follow the link to make an application yourself by following the link below.