Development & Alumni Relations Office 

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF THE PATRICIA NAPIER SCHOLARSHIPS IN NURSING & MIDWIFERY  Son Rory and mother Patricia join Russell Napier to celebrate 10 years of scholarship

28 July 2021

Earlier this month, Queen’s Law graduate Russell Napier (LLB 1987) – a consultant on matters of international finance, an acclaimed author and lecturer, and generous philanthropist – celebrated 10 years of the Patricia Napier Scholarships at Queen’s.

A keen supporter of widening access to education in his adopted home of Scotland and beyond, back in 2011 Russell decided to set up a number of scholarships at his Alma Mater in Belfast not, as might have been expected, in Law or Finance but in post-graduate study at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Explaining his reasoning for doing so in a Donor News interview in 2013, Russell said:

“It’s in recognition of my mother, Pat, who always wanted to be a nurse but never fulfilled her lifelong dream. She takes a real personal interest in the initiative and helps sift the application forms. She is very much part of a process which we both hope is going to change someone’s life.”

He continued: “Education is the most important thing and is something that I am very keen to support. It’s a way to give people who often can’t get access to it, a real chance. I am lucky to be able to afford to do this and it’s a chance to ‘pay it forward’ to someone else.”

Fast forward 10 years, and Russell, his mother Patricia and son Rory, met with staff from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s for a COVID-19 compliant surprise celebration marking the milestone anniversary.  

Speaking in a specially commissioned video to celebrate the first decade of the Patricia Napier Scholarships, Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, said:

“I am really delighted to be here virtually to thank you on behalf of Queen’s University for your 10 years of generous donations to the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“I wanted to acknowledge your significant philanthropy; so far, 33 scholars have benefitted from your generosity, making a positive difference to their lives and their career prospects.

“In the last decade, research has demonstrated that advances in nursing education deliver safer care, improving patient mortality rates. This is testament to your vision; it showed that you were ahead of the curve investing in this Master’s programme since 2011.

“There is no doubt that through your support many patients have enjoyed better, safer care from Queen’s nurses, and midwives.”

The Patricia Napier Scholarships cover tuition fees and registration. On the MSc Advanced Professional Practice programme, students study one of five specialist pathways:

  • Cancer Nursing: Supportive and Palliative Care
  • Critical and Acute Care
  • Mental Health and Older Adult
  • Leadership and Management
  • Maternal and Child Health

University and life since graduation

Russell Napier grew up in Donaghadee in County Down from 1970-83 before his family moved to nearby Bangor. Neither his parents nor his siblings had been to university so it wasn’t until he was 16-years-old that he even considered going to Queen’s.

“The early 1980s was a hugely different and very difficult time to be at university in Belfast,” said Russell, back in 2013. “During those 4 years I focused primarily on my studies and socialised in Bangor, where I also played rugby. That said, my Law degree was hugely beneficial in my career and undoubtedly opened doors for me. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without Queen’s.”

After he graduated with an LLB in 1987, a post-graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Studies from the IPLS, and a Master's degree in Law from Magdalene College Cambridge, Russell moved to Edinburgh, which was somewhere he had always wanted to live. Taking the first job he was offered, which by good fortune was in finance, he set off on what was to become a highly successful career.  

He worked first as an Investment Manager at Baillie Gifford and then as a Consultant with capital markets and investment group CLSA, he co-founded ERIC (Electronic Research Interchange) in 2014.

A strong advocate of what financial history has to teach us, in 2005 his book Anatomy of the Bear: Lessons from Wall Street's Four Great Bottoms – since described by the FT as a ‘cult classic’ – was published. Russell’s lifelong interest in education then led him to set up a module on an Edinburgh Business School MBA course. Run through a local charity, with the resulting profits funding local sixth form education, he delivers cutting-edge lectures throughout the year.

Russell’s subsequent decision to set up scholarships in the School of Nursing and Midwifery has had a lasting impact on all the beneficiaries, several of whom contributed to a commemorative video as part of the celebrations.

Recipients say thanks

Among those was 2019 recipient Veronica Bailie, who started her nursing education at Queen’s in 1999, who completed a number of courses at the University in the interim and who is currently finishing her Master’s in Advanced Professional Practice.

A Senior Practitioner for ASD and ADHD in the South Eastern Trust, and with a young family, Veronica commented:

“I would like to sincerely thank the Napier family for the Scholarship as it has meant I have been able to find a balance between work, study and family life without undue financial pressures which would have impacted on my ability to complete my studies.

“I wish the Napier family all the very best on this the 10th year anniversary of the Scholarship, which has had significant benefits for post-graduate nursing students over the past 10 years and into the future.”    

Janet Best, who has Queen’s degrees in Nursing and Midwifery, is the 2020-21 recipient of a Patricia Napier Scholarship, and completed her Master’s during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extending her video thanks to the Napier family – and laying down a marker for 2031 – Janet said:

“I want to thank you so much for giving me this award and your generosity in doing so.

“Working fulltime as a Midwife and as a single mother, you’ve taken such a financial burden off me. Not only that, but you have given me the chance to focus on my passion that is perinatal mental health and being able to improve those services in Northern Ireland.  

“I can’t wait to come back again in 10 years and be able to show you some of the work that I have managed to complete, all thanks to you!”

Teresa Sloan, Head of Health Fundraising at Queen's, added her thanks and highlighted the importance of supporting scholarships in nursing. 

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of Russell’s giving to Queen’s so we thought it appropriate to mark the occasion with a special celebration video and a get-together at the University’s InterSim Centre, where we could thank Russell and his mother Patricia.

“By comparison to other healthcare disciplines the School of Nursing and Midwifery receives much lower levels of donations, so it is hugely important to flag both the impact and the generosity of the Napier family’s philanthropy.   

“There is no doubt that through this support many patients – both here in Northern Ireland and further afield – have received superior care from more highly qualified Queen’s nurses and midwives as a direct result of the Patricia Napier Scholarships.”

Spend it, save it or give it away

Russell is currently chairman of a listed investment trust and a member of the Investment advisory committees of three fund management companies. In 2014 he founded the Library of Mistakes, a business and financial history library in Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of The CFA Society of the UK and an Honorary Professor at both Heriot-Watt University and The University of Stirling.

For Russell there are a number of reasons for supporting his University but important among those is that it is enjoyable. Speaking back in 2013 he said: “There are just three things you can do with money – spend it, save it or give it to someone else.

“We all know about the positive aspects for others of providing support where it is not otherwise available. We also need to realise that of the three things you can do with money, using it to support others is probably the most satisfying and enjoyable.’

“I suggest to people – try it once; if you don’t like it, stop!”

Clearly still enjoying supporting current and future generations of Queen’s trained medical professionals, Russell is still as good as his word.

To support health-related research projects at Queen’s, visit the Development and Alumni Relations Office website or contact Teresa Sloan, Head of Health Fundraising.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

Pictured in Queen’s new InterSim Centre are (L-R): Rory, Russell and Patricia Napier.

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