30 Nov 2018

The head of a charity that supports local people to create and sustain community gardens and green spaces in Cardiff has become the latest recipient of WCVA’s Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary.

Isla Horton OG

(Mrs Shael Dickie and Phil Fiander, Deputy Chief Executive WCVA, presenting Isla Horton with the Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary)


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.

Launched on 8 August 2017 at the National Eisteddfod on Anglesey, with members of Walter's family, The Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary was set up by WCVA in memory of a long standing and warmly regarded charity sector advocate. Each year WCVA will award £2,500 to support an individual in the third sector in Wales to become a better and more entrepreneurial leader.

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.'

About the Walter Dickie Leadership Bursary

For more than ten years Walter Dickie 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.

The fund still runs today and remains the cornerstone of WCVA's ongoing social investment activity. Thanks to Walter's dedication, WCVA has been able to lend nearly eight 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.

As a member of WCVA's board Walter Dickie's expertise, experience and commitment to the third sector have had a profound impact on the work of WCVA and his passion and warmth will long be remembered by those who had the pleasure of working with him.

The £2,500 bursary will be awarded annually to someone in a leadership role within a third sector organisation in Wales and hopes to reflect Walter's passion for travel and for learning.