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Event in Memory of St Mary's Student Molly Burdett Raises Funds to Support Students with Dyslexia

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A family fitness day, in memory of former St Mary’s University, Twickenham student Molly Burdett, who tragically died in summer 2015, has raised over £5,000 towards at new Assistive Technology Suite at the University. Thanks to the hard work of Molly’s mum, Jane Burdett, and her team of friends and relatives, through the Molly’s Smile Fund, the University is well on the way to establishing a state-of-the art suite to support its students with dyslexia. Jane Burdett commented: “I was overwhelmed with the support for our event this weekend, and the continued generosity of Molly’s friends, family and our local community. “Molly was a happy, warm and friendly girl, which often masked her daily struggle with dyslexia and her relentless and conscientious approach to her studies. “We hope to reach a £21,000 target, in what would have been Molly’s 21st year, setting up a facility to support those with dyslexia at St Mary’s, continuing Molly’s relentless drive to help people.” The event, which offered participants five exercise classes in South Park Gardens, Wimbledon, also included children's challenges, organised by Molly’s best friends, a group of 2016 newly qualified teachers and staff of St Mary's. The second annual Molly's Smile Fitness Challenge was part of a number of fundraising activities across the year, which included raising over £50,000 for St George’s GICU and Histiouk, and creating an awareness video about the rare virus hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) for GP surgeries. Sue Whitham, Head of Student Services at St Mary’s, added, “Molly was dedicated to her dream of becoming a teacher and educating young people. We hope that through the incredible efforts of Jane, and her friends and family, St Mary’s will have a greater capability to support its students throughout their studies here. “We have a strong and tight-knit community here at St Mary’s, which felt the loss of Molly’s kindness and humour immensely. The new Assistive Technology Suite will, we hope, be a fitting tribute to a much-loved student.” An assistive technology suite is a dedicated space for students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties that comprises workstations that use a combination of assistive technology software, such as mind-mapping and text-to-speech software, as well as adjustable desks, chairs, and keyboards. Assistive technology is used or modified to provide access to all students, regardless of disability, to enable individuals to carry out their studies and achieve their academic goals. It is an integral tool that can increase and improve the capabilities and independence of students, removing barriers to the curriculum and equipping students with skills they need for the workplace.
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