Livi playing the violin Hereford Cathedral School

Livi secures Oxford music place after Knapton Bursary funds HCS education

Hereford Cathedral School Year 13 pupil Livi VW, whose entire school fees were paid for by the estates of two music-loving former teachers, has achieved her dream of an offer to study music at Oxford University.

Gifted pianist and violinist Livi, 18, whose family could not afford the £13,608 annual fees at Hereford Cathedral School where music has been at the forefront of education for 800 years, has expressed her sincere gratitude to two late sisters, Miss Barbara Knapton and Mrs Kathleen Cavill, who have enabled Livi to attend the independent school since the age of 11.

In 2011 Livi went for a taster day at HCS, where she successfully obtained a music scholarship of 10% off school fees. But knowing her family simply could not afford to send her there, Livi was about to give up. She describes what happened next as “life-changing!”

By sheer coincidence in 2011, local solicitor Julian Fonseca contacted Hereford Cathedral School to inform it that after searching for a suitable recipient of £325,000, left by the sisters to fund the entire school life of a musically gifted pupil, it was to be awarded to Hereford Cathedral School.


The big-hearted sisters, who had been delivered into the world in 1918 and 1920 by Mr Fonseca’s own grandfather, a doctor, had stated that both their estates should be used to create enduring funds to help educate and progress the lives of gifted young musicians in need of financial help.

Barbara and Kathleen (pictured below) wanted to help children access a first class education where music was a strong tradition. Although their capital was not to be touched, the substantial interest generated from their investment has been enough to fully fund a child’s entire schooling at Hereford Cathedral School from the age of 11 to 18.

Knapton Bursary

Recognising Livi’s gift for music in 2011, Hereford Cathedral School immediately got in touch with her mother to tell her the good news. Livi has attended the school from the age of 11 to 18 and has reached Grade 8 Distinction in both the piano and violin. She has also been a soloist in several major concerts and now hopes to take up a place at St Anne’s College, Oxford.

Her mother, Estelle, said: “Without this extraordinary gift it would simply not be possible for our child to attend Hereford Cathedral School. This is without question a life-changing opportunity and we cannot thank the ladies enough for making reachable the unreachable.”

From a modest background themselves, Barbara and Kathleen’s father was a tailor from Cowbridge while their maternal grandparents were Yeoman farmers in Staffordshire where they spent many happy holidays. Barbara and Kathleen trained as teachers and taught throughout their working life. In the final months of their lives they approached their solicitor Mr Fonseca to draw up their wills.

Upon hearing about Livi’s offer from Oxford, Mr Fonseca said: “What fantastic news about Livi, my heartiest congratulations, and what a great result for Miss Knapton and Mrs Cavill, wherever they are, they will be immensely pleased.”

Livi is now helping Hereford Cathedral School to launch the search for the next extraordinary musician to benefit from the Knapton Bursary and says: “This has been such a life-changing opportunity for me. As soon as I visited Hereford Cathedral School I fell in love with its ethos and the teachers, and I so wanted to come here. I wouldn’t be where I am today without this bursary.”

Hereford Cathedral School, which has helped its students gain organ, choral and music scholars to Oxbridge for the past 13 consecutive years, is now on the search for the next pupil to benefit from the Knapton Bursary.

Could this be your child? If so, Hereford Cathedral School would love to hear from you.

Please call Selena Fortey, Admissions Officer at Hereford Cathedral School, on 01432 363506 or email admissions@herefordcs.com to enquire about this unique 100% bursary, or to begin the application process for your child. Applicants should be children ages 11 to 18 and whose parents/guardians would be happy to be means-tested on their income.* Click here to request a prospectus or arrange a visit to Hereford Cathedral School (please express your interest in the Knapton Bursary in the 'Scholarships and Bursaries' section of the Senior School form).

Please click here for more information on the Knapton Bursary.

* Please note that the criteria of the Knapton Bursary are to fully fund a musically gifted child, aged 11-18, throughout their education at Hereford Cathedral School, and whose family will need financial assistance to pay 100% of their fees.