Supporting great leadership in the voluntary sector

The Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary helps leaders in the voluntary sector to develop their leadership skills. The annual award grants £2,500 to support an individual in Wales to become a better leader.


As a member of WCVA’s board Walter Dickie’s expertise, experience and commitment to the voluntary sector have had a profound impact on the work of WCVA and those who had the pleasure of working with him.

For more than ten years Walter supported WCVA as a trustee where he played an instrumental role in guiding the organisation and helping to set up the groundbreaking Communities Investment Fund which lends money to social businesses. That fund still runs today and remains the cornerstone of so much of our ongoing social investment activity.

Thanks to Walter’s dedication, WCVA has been able to lend over ten million pounds to community organisations, many working in the most deprived areas of Wales. Amongst a myriad of successes, the fund has helped save the last pubs in rural communities, given a kick start to the extreme sports boom in North Wales, provided a safe environment for children whose foster care has broken down, brought old buildings back into community use, created hundreds of jobs and enabled communities to control assets in their own towns and villages.

Walter sadly passed away in 2017 so to honour his memory, and continue the development of leadership in the third sector that he gave so much time to support, WCVA set up The Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary.


A bursary of £2,500 will be awarded annually to someone in a leadership role within a voluntary organisation in Wales. This could be someone working in a social enterprise with an idea of how to develop their trading activity, or a leader within the sector who wants to generate income from trading for the first time.

The parameters of how the bursary can be spent are open and applicants are encouraged to come up with interesting ideas to support their own development as a leader. Walter had a passion for travel and for learning, and WCVA wanted this bursary to reflect that. The money could for instance be used:

  • on a particular course of study
  • on funding a visit, possibly overseas, to see how others approach things, or
  • simply anything that the beneficiary feels will move them and their organisation forward

The only limits are in your imagination!


There is no formal scoring system for applications. The judging panel are looking for the proposal that inspires them most and is in keeping with the ethos of the award. All that is asked in return is that successful applicants share their experiences within their own organisation, with WCVA and with the wider sector. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to support a vital leader in the voluntary sector, giving them the capacity to grow, develop and increase their impact.

To apply, fill in an application form and please return to Social Investment Cymru on or call 0300 111 0124.

2023 Walter Dickie bursary applications have now closed. 


Salah with his work colleagues at the Welsh Charity Awards 2023

The 2023 Walter Dickie Bursary has been awarded to Salah Rasool of Welsh Refugee Council. Salah will use the bursary to pay for a study trip to Canada, held globally as a model of good practice for its work with refugees. Here he will learn first-hand about refugee employment services and about work to influence government policy.

Read more.


Steve from TAPE sitting having an interview in an office in LA  Lou from Creu Cymru delivering a talk on stage

In 2022 the Walter Dickie bursary was awarded to not only one leader, but two in the sector. Louise Miles-Payne, Director of Creu Cymru will use the bursary to carry out learning visits to similar performing arts focussed organisations across different parts of the UK and Steve Swindon, Founder and Creative Director of TAPE Community Music and Film will use his bursary to visit, train and make international connections with key partners such as Netflix, Universal and Disney.

Read more.


2022 winners Steve Swindon and Louise Miles-Payne have been recording a series of podcasts speaking with other bursary recipients about how they’ve been developing their leadership skills.


Two smiling women hold an award certificate

Karen Chalk of Circus Eruption was announced as the winner of the £2,500 bursary at WCVA’s AGM and Annual Lecture in Llandudno.

Read more.


Isla Horton, Development Co-ordinator at Grow Cardiff, was announced as the second ever winner of the £2,500 bursary at WCVA’s Annual General Meeting at the Wales Millennium Centre on 22 November 2018.

The bursary will enable Isla to embark on a study tour of Montreal in Canada, visiting respected organisations across the area that are promoting natural resources and revitalising their communities through gardening projects – as well as visiting local schools where they use gardening as a learning tool across the curriculum.

The bursary will also pay for Isla to undergo three courses of study at the Thrive centre for therapeutic horticulture, based in Reading.

Isla will be using what she has learnt to enrich Grow Cardiff’s projects, including work with schools, social prescribing, and neighbourhood community gardens. She will also be sharing her learning with the wider sector and external partners through Grow Cardiff’s membership with various third sector organisations (including WCVA) and schools, health and well-being and social prescribing networks across Cardiff.

‘I have had very little training other than on the job and out of necessity since starting Grow Cardiff, and I would like to use this bursary as a space to reflect and grow – a time to develop myself as a leader, something I have often denied myself, but that on reflection, I very much need,’ says Isla, ‘I want to become the leader that Grow Cardiff deserves and that I have the potential to become if I allow myself the time and space to explore.’

Read more about Isla’s journey in her blog: Voluntary Sector leader? Invest in Yourself


Steve Brooks from Sustrans Cymru was announced as the first successful Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary recipient at the WCVA AGM and Annual Lecture at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on 22 November 2017.

Sustrans Cymru is a charity that aims to make Wales a better place for people to walk and cycle. Steve used the bursary to fund enrolment on the ‘New Technologies and Changing Behaviours’ course, part of the Global Challenges in Transport programme run by Oxford University’s Oxford Leadership Programme.

The bursary also paid for Steve to travel on a study visit to Copenhagen for the annual Copenhagenize Masterclass, to learn how they helped transform their city into a bicycle-friendly urban centre. To bolster the impact of Steve’s activities Sustrans organised mentoring and ongoing strategic advice to complement his learning.

Read more about Steve’s adventures in his blog series for WCVA: