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Helping hand ... Heritage North Otago Charitable Trust secretary June Jones is wanting descendants of those who died in war to apply for grants. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Descendants of those who served and died in war are being invited to apply for grants.

The Heritage North Otago Charitable Trust was trying to raise awareness of the grants, because a lot of people did not know they existed, secretary June Jones said.

The trust evolved from a national movement called Heritage, which was set up in 1941 to watch over the children of servicemen killed or disabled in war. There were 17 branches nationwide, with North Otago being one.

The children received birthday and Christmas presents; school fees were paid along with speech and music lessons; and money also went towards things such as family holidays, university fees, and Outward Bound courses.

When there were no longer wards of servicemen needing help, but still money available, the charitable trust was established in 1991, for the health and education of descendants.

North Otago was now only one of two regional branches functioning across the country, and it tried to award grants annually, Mrs Jones said.

Since its inception, 229 applicants had been awarded $185,775.00.

“In recent years, we’ve been able to help two young lads … with learning difficulties, and that was something new that we hadn’t had before,” she said.

“The majority of people have been students leaving school to go to university, training college, nursing, you name it.

“We have helped older people too, who want to take up a new career. It’s not just limited to school leavers.”

The past couple of years there had not been a lot of response, and she said “very few” applicants were turned down.

“Usually the quality is very good, and of course it must comply with the stipulations of the trust. There has to be a need.

“Some have more needs than others, and some we have been able to refer on to the national trust.

“I know that they’ve been able to help with extra ongoing costs.”

Some grant recipients would keep the trust updated with how they were getting on and how they had put their money to use, Mrs Jones said.

“We do get feedback from some … I got a letter the other day from one of the girls we were able to help last year, she sits her final exams this year.”

Grant applications close on November 5 this year, and forms are available by contacting Mrs Jones via email at junejonesnz@gmail.com.

Direct descendants of service personnel from North Otago who served in New Zealand or Commonwealth forces during World War 2 or in combat since may apply to be considered for a scholarship for health, education or special needs.