Sir Jimmy's £500,000 for Leeds trainee doctors

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Veteran Leeds celebrity Sir Jimmy Savile has pledged £500,000 to continue a unique scheme supporting top medical students for another five years.

Since 2006 the Leeds Undergraduate Research Enterprise (LURE) initiative has enabled young people studying to become doctors at the Leeds School of Medicine to carry out research while doing their undergraduate degrees.

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They are given a bursary to do the research during holiday periods and are mentored by leading academics, while they also develop leadership and mentoring skills and get involved in community outreach and education work.

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Sir Jimmy revealed he was continuing his support for the scheme at a reception at the University of Leeds where he met some of the latest LURE scholars.

He told the YEP: "It's so great that I thought I would stick another five years worth of money in. It's about half a million over five years."

The 84-year-old philanthropist said he wanted to support trainee doctors after seeing medical students as a young boy in Leeds.

"I thought what a good scheme to release them before they got weighed down by bureaucracy," he said.

"It's a dream of a scheme. I honestly didn't give much of a chance of it working but it's worked by far and away better than I could have dreamed it would."

Each year four or five new scholars join the scheme, which also receives funding from Leeds-based charity Heart Research UK, during their second year of medical school and continue on it until their fifth and final year.

Prof Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, who is a director of the LURE scheme along with Dr Karen Lee, said Sir Jimmy's support was vital: "Without him we would not be able to do it.

"This is the only programme that picks students up and takes them all the way through. We look at these people as the future leaders."

Nigel Simpson, consultant obstetrician at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said the scheme gave students the opportunity to learn how research in the lab can link to the care of patients.

"It's that legacy that Sir Jimmy has provided, which means that new medical students coming into the first year know these opportunities are there for them if they strive for them," he said.

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