How we started

More than 40 years ago our founder, the first Earl of Snowdon, set out to tackle inequalities facing Disabled People, driven by his lived experience and frustration that they were overlooked and unvalued in education and employment.

Since the Trust was established in 1981, we have awarded more than £4 million in grants and scholarships which have enabled thousands of students to achieve education goals and move into employment in ways that might otherwise not have been possible.

Unapologetically making waves to influence policy and practice, Lord Snowdon believed in the potential of all Disabled People and strongly advocated for Disability Inclusion.

In the late 1970s he chaired an all-party Parliamentary working party, producing a ground-breaking report – Integrating the Disabled – which highlighted the many ways in which disabled people were disadvantaged at all stages of life and offered practical solutions for better integration.

Lord Snowdon recognised that state funding at that time, took little account of the needs of disabled people, and that the additional financial burden of disability was making university prohibitive to many, and therefore preventing them from higher study. And so, in 1981, the first International Year of Disabled People, he established The Snowdon Award Scheme with a sum of £14,000 from fees he received from photographing the Royal Family.

He envisaged that his Trust would need to exist for about twenty years, by which time equality legislation and action would catch up and eradicate the need for disability advocacy. But more than 40 years later we’re still working towards a time when disability inclusion is no longer a goal.


Our history

These are some of the key moments in the Snowdon Trust's history


Snowdon Working Party report "Integrating The Disabled" published


First International Year of Disabled People. Lord Snowdon establishes The Snowdon Award Scheme (charity registration 282754) as an unincorporated Trust, to provide grants to Disabled Students in further and higher education


Thanks to our shared Patronage from the first Earl of Snowdon we begin a fundraising partnership with the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (more than 30 years later, it’s still going strong!)


Lord Snowdon fires the starting gun for the London Marathon, and 10 runners complete the gruelling 26.2 miles for his Award Scheme


The first Snowdon Survey is published in conjunction with the Disability Research Unity at the University of Leeds. It recommends that Disabled Student Allowances should be extended to all post-16 students and that the Government should create a single student funding body to reduce regional variations in support


Total grant awards pass £1 million


The Snowdon Award Scheme supports its 1,000th student


Lord Snowdon becomes President of The Snowdon Award Scheme


We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Snowdon Award Scheme at a reception at Downing Street with many of our students, trustees, donors and supporters

The Snowdon Survey 2006 is published, highlighting that Disabled Student Allowances are insufficient to cover the cost of expensive human support and that lower amounts available to support postgraduate study makes it more difficult for Disabled Students to go on to Master’s level and beyond

Snowdon Surveys


The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills announce that from 2008/9 the DSA non-medical helpers’ allowance will increase from £12,420 to £20,000 per year, and the postgraduate DSA will increase from £5,915 to £10,000 per year


Bridget’s Trust, a charity providing support to Disabled Students at Cambridge universities is amalgamated into the Snowdon Award Scheme, with funds of more than £600,000, including an endowment of almost £300,000


Trustees pass a special resolution to change the name from The Snowdon Award Scheme to the Snowdon Trust. The charity undergoes a full rebrand


The Snowdon Survey 2013 is published and continues to highlight the unfair cap on DSA funding for postgraduate students


The Trust Deed of the Snowdon Trust is amended by special resolution to remove the age preference of 17-25 for applications for financial awards

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson becomes Patron of the Snowdon Trust


The Snowdon Trust receives a transformational legacy gift of £2.3 million which enables us to establish the Snowdon Master’s Scholarship programme


We mark the sad passing of the first Earl of Snowdon

The first two Snowdon Scholarships are awarded to students studying at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Art

Elmwood Design Consultancy win a Design Effectiveness Award for their 2012 rebranding of the Snowdon Trust


Our campaign is successful! The Government confirm that the postgraduate DSA will be increased from £10,993 in 2018/19 to £20,000 from 2019/20, in line with undergraduate allowances


The Disabled Leaders Network is launched as a pilot venture to provide a platform for exceptional Disabled Students, graduates and professionals to network and collaborate


The Snowdon Survey 2021 presents the challenges facing Disabled Students. Their evidence shows that the Disabled Student experience varies greatly across different universities. It highlights the need to make accessibility a leadership issue, to make funding streams simpler, and to improve transitions from higher education into employment for Disabled Students. It is the first research report to highlight the impact of the pandemic for Disabled Students

The Trustees pass a special resolution to change the charitable structure of the Snowdon Trust and become a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) which provides a more appropriate framework to support our staff, trustees and the breadth of our activity


The Snowdon Trust CIO (charity registration 1197627) begins operations at the start of the 2022/23 financial year