New bursary scheme will enable less well off families to seek a private school education for their children.

A generous legacy inspired by a happy childhood in North Devon more than a century ago will enable three children a year from less well off families to attend West Buckland School from next September.

A £450,000 legacy left by Zillah Salter (nee Bristow,) combined with existing school funds and money from the West Buckland Foundation will allow three children per year to start at the school from Year 7 and pay for their education until they are 16.

The new bursary is open to any families in the North Devon and Exmoor area, the only stipulation being that they are unable to afford the private education fees.

Zillah’s father Ernest was head gardener at Castle Hill, Filleigh, until 1930 and she spent a magical childhood growing up on the ancestral estate of the Fortescue family – she even looked after the current Lady Arrans’ mother, Lady Margaret – now in her nineties - when she was a baby.

She related that tale when she returned to the estate a few years before her death in 2008, amazing Lady Arran and Lady Margaret with her encyclopaedic memory of the garden, the house, the family and staff.

She left her bequest to The Fortescue North Devon and Exmoor Charitable Trust with the express wish the trustees used this money to directly benefit children from the local area and they decided to gift it to the West Buckland School Foundation to benefit those least able to afford school fees.

“Thanks to Zillah’s remarkable generosity and that of Lady Arran’s family trust, the Foundation bursary programme that we are now able to offer is a leading example in the south west region and beyond,” said headmaster John Vick.

“Their gift will provide local children with a first class education and enable them to experience many activities that will enrich their entire lives.”

Three full bursaries per year will be available until the money runs out. It will also be used to help pay for extra items such as uniforms.

Applicants must meet the school’s academic entrance criteria and will be selected by a panel that includes the headmaster and an external assessor appointed by Lady Arran. Applications must be received by the beginning of January 2012.

For information, contact Sue Pollard at the West Buckland School Foundation, West Buckland, Barnstaple, EX32 0SX or for an informal chat on (01598) 760164, or email sp@westbuckland.devon.sch.uk.