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New travel grants available for young alumni and current students

Applications are now open for the first of these generous grants, which have been made possible thanks to a family donation in memory of Lonely Planet travel writer Tom Parkinson (1997), who sadly died in 2007.

Tom’s passion for travel and writing began during the third year of his MML degree, when he worked for a publisher in Berlin and became an expert on Berlin’s nightlife during his year abroad.

The Parkinson family has donated over £30,000, enabling Jesus College to launch two distinct schemes to help aspiring young travel writers.

  • The Tom Parkinson Travel Writing Bursary offers a young Jesus College graduate £2,500 to travel while developing the skills and experience needed to further their travel writing career. The bursary is biannual; the first bursary should be applied for via the College website by 31 January 2023.
  • The Tom Parkinson Travel Grants offer current students up to four travel grants of £500. The grants are given each year and should be applied for via the College intranet in Lent Term. 

Tom’s father, Stephen Parkinson (1969, MML), said: “As a travel writer, Tom established a reputation for adventurous exploration, cultural empathy, and sharp observation. The aim of the Travel Awards is to give young alumni a chance to try out their own writing style while exploring the world. The family hopes these grants will encourage other Jesuans to follow Tom in considering travel writing as their career.”

Sarah Richey, Careers Mentor at Jesus College, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Parkinson family for this gift made in Tom’s memory. Funding a scheme to help young people from his College embark upon the career that Tom was so passionate about feels like a fitting way to remember him.”

Remembering Tom

Tom Parkinson made his name as a travel writer in the six years following his graduation from Jesus College. He joined the Lonely Planet team in 2001 and worked on guidebooks for countries and regions across Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The 2006 edition of The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere presents him as an author who "has worked [...] mainly in random corners of Africa, and seems to have a knack for getting lost in remote places".

In 2006 he landed his dream assignment, to be sole author of a new guide to Madagascar, after which he was due to return to Borneo to research the first guide devoted entirely to the island. He spent three months in Madagascar in late 2006 and was in the middle of compiling the guide when he died in January 2007.

There are a selection of his Lonely Planet books in the College’s Library, including The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere, in which he is represented by pieces on the Sahara and Chalbi Deserts.

Apply for the alumni grant now