Naomi (second from the right), with Martin, (right).

A University graduate has become one of the first recipients of a new award that aims to kickstart the careers of some of Cornwall’s brightest minds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Naomi Watson, an alumna from Camborne School of Mines, was presented with a Young & Talented Cornwall Spirit of Trevithick Award, which will provide her with valuable funding and mentorship as she looks to develop her skills.

Naomi, 22, was one of three young people to receive the Spirit of Trevithick Award at an event hosted on the Penryn campus, last week. The award is also sponsored by the University of Exeter, Cornwall, to mark the 20th anniversary of its campus in the Duchy.

Alongside Naomi, who will use the funding to study a mine ventilation course in America, were Lily Butler (17), from Helston, and Arthur Axe (14), from Constantine. Lily will travel to Thailand to represent Camborne Science and International Academy at an international science competition and fair, while Arthur is exploring aerodynamic principles while studying at Penryn College.

“We are delighted to support Young and Talented Cornwall with its wonderful initiative to nurture the county’s young people to help them succeed in science,” said Professor Martin Siegert, Vice President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Cornwall). “And it was wonderful to welcome them all to the Penryn campus – welcoming back in Naomi’s case! – so that we could celebrate their inspirational stories and look ahead to the potential that is to come.

“Cornwall has an incredible scientific and engineering heritage in mining, communications, electronics and transport, and is now leading the way in areas such as renewable energy, space technology, mineral development and data science. Here at the University of Exeter, we are passionate, not just about scientific endeavour and protecting the environment for future generations, but also educating tomorrow’s business and research leaders.”

The Spirit of Trevithick Award is the latest initiative of Young & Talented Cornwall, The Lord Lieutenant’s Fund which since 2005 has provided grants of more than £400,000 to budding stars of tomorrow across a wide range of skills areas.

Recipients are matched with an established Cornwall-based company or innovator for invaluable expert advice and given access to a cash award of up to £2,000 for the development of a particular project or piece of equipment.

As well as supporting youngsters showing outstanding promise in STEM, more than 30 grants were also handed out to 14-23-year-olds with impressive potential in disciplines including surfing, swimming, music and performing arts. The youngsters all gathered at the University’s prestigious Environment and Sustainability Institute, where they were congratulated by Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall who heads up the initiative.

Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho said: “We have been running the Young & Talent Cornwall Awards for almost 20 years and in that time, we have supported so many dazzlingly talented young people, including sportswomen from Helen Glover to Molly Caudery. The latest 36 recipients have such ability and potential and I am honoured to be able to help them on their way, with the support of our generous sponsors and partners.

“As the very first recipients of our Spirit of Trevithick Award, Lily, Arthur and Naomi in particular are trailblazers. They are following in the footsteps of Cornwall’s great innovators and carving a new path which will enrich their own futures as well as Cornwall’s.”

Ian Jones, CEO of Goonhilly Space Station and Curator of the Spirit of Trevithick Award, added: “I had the pleasure of chairing the panel assessing applications and was overwhelmed by the quality, passion and ambition that shone through. Supporting young people today is an investment in tomorrow. It is a joy to help nurture talents in the STEM space and evolve passions and interests.”

Young & Talented Cornwall is sponsored by a number of Cornish businesses, including Cornish Lithium, Wildanet, St Austell Brewery, University of Exeter, Rodda’s, Cornish Metals and St Austell Printing Company. The Lions Club of St Austell also generously donated to specifically support awardees from the St Austell area. Bull & Wolf, Impress51, Cornish Marketing Consultancy and Wild Card also provide valuable support.

Applications for the next round of grants are now open until end-July. For more information, visit the Young and Talented website.