Media release: Tom McGrath Trust celebrates ten years of supporting Scotland-based writers, with three ‘maverick awards’


TODAY would have been Tom McGrath’s 80th birthday. It is also ten years since the launch of The Tom McGrath Trust.

To celebrate both events, the trust is delighted to invite applications for the final round of its awards.

Since 2011, the trust has supported 76 writers to create work to celebrate Tom’s vibrant contribution to Scotland’s cultural life.

The Tom McGrath Trust was set up to honour the life and legacy of Tom McGrath – poet, playwright, and creative maverick – who died in 2009.

Inspired by his boundless generosity of spirit and his passion for supporting Scottish playwrights, the trust aimed to be a source of inspiration, stimulation, and support for artists seeking to develop their craft. It was in Tom McGrath’s nature to be generous with small amounts of money which could help to make a big difference, and, over the last ten years, awards have been made in this spirit.

The trustees have taken the difficult decision to bring the trust’s work to a close in this tenth year.

Ella Wildridge, Tom’s partner and the driving force behind the trust, has become unwell over the last year, and this has been the key factor in the trustees’ decision to conclude the trust’s work.

To mark its closure, and thanks to a generous donation from Morven McLean, at Original Editions, the trust is offering three awards, each up to £2,000 each.

Two awards will be given as ‘maverick awards’ in memory of Tom and one will be a ‘wild award’, to celebrate Ella’s unique contribution to the trust and Scotland’s creative community.

Awards will be given to the best applications for a new project, with writing at its heart, that departs from the routine and starts to explore new and imaginative possibilities.

As in previous years, the trustees will award funds to those artists whose application, career history, and proposals are considered most in keeping with Tom’s love of inquiry, collaboration and endeavour, values equally shared by Ella.

Everyone who knew Tom knew that he was not a big fan of paperwork! With this in mind, the trustees are keeping the application process simple and effective. This has been further simplified in response to the stress that creatives are currently experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the loss of work that the arts industry is facing.

Alice McGrath, trustee, said: “The trust has supported a lot of artists in the last ten years and I know my dad would have taken great pleasure in being in conversation with everyone we have supported.

“Over the years, my dad’s partner, Ella Wildridge, has given so much of her energy, wisdom, and care to the trust and many people who applied – whether successful or not – that went way beyond providing financial support.

“It really should have been called the Tom and Ella Trust as, without her, it wouldn’t have happened in the unique way that it did.

“It’s with mixed feelings that we are now bringing the trust to a close. Dad was always innovative, seeing where the need and interests of the time were, and making new things happen. I wonder what he would be doing in this complex year. The trustees will do their best to channel his and Ella’s maverick ways in this last round of funds and provide a little support at a great time of need for artists and creativity.”

Notes for editors:

The closing date for completed applications is Monday 7 December 2020.

The trust will announce the successful award recipients at the end of January 2021.

Eligibility and criteria can be found on

Magnetic North theatre company is also celebrating the work of Tom McGrath to mark his 80th birthday. Magnetic North’s first production was Tom’s play, The Dream Train, performed at the Traverse Theatre in 1999.

In September 2020, Magnetic North created a new, concert performance version of The Dream Train for camera.

The staged reading with live music was filmed with social distancing in place in the atmospheric Main Hall at The Hub, Edinburgh. It will be available to watch online from 23 October 2020, celebrating Tom McGrath’s 80th birthday and Magnetic North’s 21st.


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