Unique UL Sports Scholarship will honour courage of Stuart Mangan

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Andrew Carey

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THE courage and spirit of talented young rugby player Stuart Mangan will be honoured in a unique sports scholarship at the University of Limerick created to support a paralysed sportsperson in fulfilling their educational potential.

The €25,000 Stuart Mangan Scholarship has been established to honour the life and memory of this young athlete by making it possible for those who suffered paralysis while competing in sport to participate in educational programmes at the University of Limerick for periods of up to four years.

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Munster, Ireland and Lions legend, Keith Wood and the Mangan family, launched the Stuart Mangan Scholarship this week which includes not only financial support but the support of a number of mentors including Keith Wood, Denis O’Brien and Stuart’s brother Keith Mangan.

These mentors will take a personal interest in the welfare, education and subsequent career progress of the awardee.

On April 5, 2008, while playing rugby for Hammersmith and Fulham RFC, Stuart Mangan, aged 25, was accidentally injured and as a result he was paralysed from his neck down. He relied on a ventilator to breathe and his carers for all his physical needs 24 hours a day.

“Everyone who knew Stuart can confirm that he was a very special young man. He was a talented sportsman, excelling at rugby, golf and on horseback. He loved to travel and discover the richness of other countries and as a result spoke five languages. He truly loved life and was hugely generous and inclusive,” said Brian Mangan, Stuart’s father.

The scholarship is part funded by the W2 Fund established by Keith Wood to support sport related projects for young people.

Keith visited Stuart shortly after his injury and supported the Mangan family through his W2 Fund.

Stuart showed incredible courage and determination in dealing with the monumental challenge of his injury and facing the circumstances ahead of him.

In August 2009, Stuart developed respiratory problems and he passed away peacefully on Friday August 7 in the presence of his parents Brian and Una and his three brothers Keith, John and Barry.

“Stuart was a great encourager and he would be delighted to help anyone to overcome their challenges. He will be there in spirit for the student who receives the scholarship and also for his or her circle of support. We would like to thank Keith Wood and all at University of Limerick for taking this initiative to honour Stuart’s memory”, said Stuart’s brother Keith Mangan.

Speaking from the launch Keith Wood said “I got to know Stuart’s family in the weeks following his accident and recognised that Stuart’s strength was a trait that ran through them all. W2 was able to make a contribution immediately with a view to staving off some of the panic that ensues with the financial reality of paralysis sinks in. When Stuart passed away just a year later his family asked the trustees of Stuart’s Trust to repay the funds so that they could be applied for the benefit of others.”

The Stuart Mangan Scholarship will be administered by University of Limerick Foundation and the Disability Support Services Office at the University of Limerick. The Office supports over 600 UL students with disabilities including those who are physically disabled, visually impaired, hearing impaired, students with dyslexia or mobility difficulties as well as students with hidden disabilities such as epilepsy or mental health problems