A FUND created in the memory of a retired Dorset-lover is helping disadvantaged young people change their lives by helping them follow their dream careers.

Paul Cornes’ partner Tom Flood chose Dorset Community Foundation to set up the Paul Cornes Fund in memory of the 64-year-old, who died last June.

Proceeds from the fund are used to support the Dorset Bursary Fund, which gives grants of up to £1,000 to help young people aged 16 to 25 to take up vocational studies they could not otherwise afford.

The grants support students at six colleges and are used for travel to college, buying required equipment including laptops and for essential study trips.

Tom said: “The legacy of the fund is terribly important to me and what I want people to know is I am just enormously proud of Paul and what he did in his life.

“What I would like most of all is to help young people do one of the things he thought was most important – to be able to make something of themselves.”

This year it has awarded £31,000 to 60 youngsters to help them take up a variety of courses in 2020/21 including blacksmithery, animal care and uniformed public services.

Tom said education was something that Paul, who was born in Liverpool and fended for himself from the age of 16, believed in strongly after making his way through college against his father’s wishes.

He added: “At 18 he became the first person in his family to go to the polytechnic and got his degree, much to the annoyance of his father who thought he should have got a job.

“It always stuck with Paul that he was the first person in his family who went to college and who made education something important in his mind.”

Having met Paul in London in 1997, the couple moved to Boscombe in 2010 after spotting a flat at Honeycombe Beach and then six years ago they moved to Talbot Woods.

“Paul was quite nervous about us as a couple moving into a small place like this but our neighbours are fantastic and we all socialise together,” said Tom.

“They have been absolutely wonderful since Paul died.”

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017, at whichi ppoint they hnew at it was terminal because it had spread.

Tom said: “We did think we would get longer but unfortunately because of Covid his chemotherapy had to be stopped and he died here at home, which was his absolute wish.

“We got a hospital bed for him and the Macmillan nurses were just fantastic to us.”

Tom decided he wanted the devastating loss of his partner to bring about something positive.

He said. “I wanted his memory to be kept alive and, because he adored Dorset, when I discovered the community foundation I thought it was an ideal partner to set up a fund with,” he added. “It’s a safe mechanism to get money out to those in need and I can get as involved as I want.

“I came up with the idea of what I wanted the fund to be used for but I am not wedded to that and if the foundation came to me next year and said they wanted to use it for something different, then I am very relaxed about that.

“I just want some good, some joy and some hope to be brought into people’s lives because of Paul’s fund.”

Read more about the Dorset Bursary Fund here: dorsetcommunityfoundation.org/apply-for-a-grant/grants-for-individuals.