Announcing Winners of the 2021 Bristol Groundschool British Woman Pilots’ Association Scholarship

Bristol Groundschool (BGS) is delighted to announce the two winners of the 2021 British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship.

The winners, Gemma Jefferies and Rebekah Yore, will both receive a scholarship that will cover 50% of the course cost for ATPL (A/H) at Bristol Groundschool, as part of BGS’s wider ongoing commitment to helping improve gender parity in the airline industry.

Alex Whittingham, Bristol Groundschool’s Managing Director, said “the standard of applicants for the scholarship is always very high and this year was no exception. We hope these scholarships will help support the winners on their paths to becoming pilots and encourage other women to pursue aviation as a career.”

British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Gemma Jefferies
British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Gemma Jefferies

Gemma Jefferies said “I got into flying through gliding, I remember driving home from a family holiday and seeing one skim over the top of the car. It was from this I asked for a taster day for my 17th birthday and used every penny of my wages from that point to fly every weekend. It had me hooked from the first winch and I progressively moved onto power flight as and when I could afford it.

“I have recently piloted a gliding to solo scheme (Jean Baker Award) for three amazing young female engineers. I believe exposure to the aviation industry is key to encouraging more women to look to the skies. I have chosen to pursue a career as a pilot to become an instructor and build on this scheme, run taster days for schools/colleges and expand my knowledge of a fascinating, ever-changing industry. Fantastic ‘office’ views aside, it really is the most rewarding career and I haven’t even scratched the surface of it yet!”

Rebekah Yore said “I’ve always wanted to fly but never really thought it possible until I started working in the humanitarian field around five years ago. It was definitely a love story: a King Air, a job and a great team. Working with aviation logistics and joining disaster response operations where we flew “last mile” aid and personnel deliveries, aerial reconnaissance and evacuation missions in and out of damaged islands, I knew on returning home I had to do something about this burning ambition to be the one flying, not just a member of the supporting crew (even though that was amazing in itself!).

“In 2018, after spending two months in the Caribbean following two major hurricanes at the end of the previous year, I called into a few flying schools local to me in the UK and the rest, as they say, is history!”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on pilot training and the aviation industry. In response, Bristol Groundschool moved classes online in 2020 with live interactive webinars taught by the BGS instructors.

The BWPA encouraged its members to keep in touch during lockdown with online regional meet-ups.

Gemma Jefferies said “The BWPA has been a lifeline to so many aviators throughout the pandemic, it has kept the community growing and increasingly in touch so that no one has felt alone in their frustration of not being able to fly. 

“[The pandemic] was a massive hit on progression not being able to fly for so long, it has been challenging building up my confidence to pre-pandemic levels. I have missed the opportunity to complete various ratings leaving me behind my training target.” 

British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Rebekah Yore
British Woman Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Scholarship Winner, Rebekah Yore

Rebekah Yore said “I was in the final stages of my PPL last year when the pandemic really started to affect our lives in the UK. Periods of grounding were far from helpful, but thanks to the wonderful and enduring efforts of my brilliant flying school – Blackbushe Aviation – I managed to safely complete my training and pass my skills test in between lockdowns! “

Despite the disruption to their pilot training, both scholarship winners are eager to start their ATPL theory training with Bristol Groundschool.

Rebekah Yore said “The incredible good fortune of winning a BWPA scholarship with BGS has meant that I can get started much sooner again. I think in strange and difficult times such as these, the encouragement and belief in your dreams that a bursary represents, can be as important as, if not more so, than the actual funding itself!”

Gemma Jefferies said “I am fortunately friends with a few commercial pilots who studied for their ATPLs at Bristol Groundschool, it was the combination of distance learning, their recommendations and experiences that I was attracted to this scholarship.

“I didn’t want to wait any longer to begin my ATPL’s, the BWPA and BGS has allowed me to kick off this challenging part of my training – opening up so many doors after completion. It is very humbling to have the BWPA believe in me to award me this scholarship, I will not let them down!”

Rebekah Yore has already started her ATPL studying with Bristol Groundschool, talking about why she chose to study with BGS “Studying with Bristol Groundschool was almost a given for me. I’ve seen friends go through their ATPL course with BGS and highly recommend it, I’ve heard countless shining reviews from past and present ATPL candidates and the results from BGS courses time and again speak for themselves. But perhaps most importantly, it wasn’t an option for me to stop working while I studied. I needed a school that fully understood the needs and experiences of part-time students already with busy lives and careers, who designed their courses expertly around these specific requirements, and who could provide the exact combination of support and flexibility for success. I didn’t doubt for a moment that BGS was the way forward”.

Bristol Groundschool is Europe’s leading ATPL and CPL modular theory provider with the option for distance learning, enabling students to learn from anywhere in the world.