The Averil Osborn Award seeks to promote and support work which enhances the participation and leadership of older people in research.

The award wishes to emphasise the potential of older people to play a central role in the research process. This year we welcome projects once again. This time, however, we ask that all proposals take into account the constraints of Covid-19, and ensure that all methodology observes Covid-19 safety measures, regardless of the proposed timelines. 

Who was Averil Osborn?

Averil Osborn (1944-1994) made a significant contribution to improving the lives of older people through her research and writing, and through active engagement with older people themselves. She was a true pioneer of co-production approaches in ageing research. 

Her sudden death in 1994 saddened colleagues and friends in the British Society of Gerontology and she is remembered with deep affection and admiration. To commemorate Averil’s life and work the Society established the BSG Averil Osborn Award for Participatory Research to support innovative research and dissemination projects which directly involve older people and to spread understanding and good practice.

Awards objectives and policies

  • The aim of the Fund is to encourage and support work which will improve the quality-of-life and citizenship of older people. 
  • The Fund wishes to support original studies that involve older people at all stages of the research (design, execution, interpretation, dissemination).
  • Awards in the range £500-£3,000 may be made. 

Essential features of an Averil Osborn project

  • Projects in which older people lead the research or are involved collaboratively.
  • Those following an agenda agreed with older people. 

Favoured types of projects

  • New initiatives or projects which build on existing work
  • Projects with a clear timetable, budget and specific dissemination plans.
  • All methodologies and approaches are considered.
  • All disciplines and forms of professional involvement are considered. 

An example of a previously funded project

“Serious study” in later life: what are the implications for quality of life, personal wellbeing, and effective citizenship?

This project builds upon the work of the Ransackers Association, enabling people aged 55 and over, with no previous experience of higher education, to undertake residential courses focusing on study skills & IT. The research project aimed to explore the value, meaning and impact of ‘serious study’ in later life from the older learners’ perspective.  The team found that there were many benefits to later life study, such as helping people to discover new lifecourse directions, but also uncovered several reasons why serious study was not undertaken earlier, including gendered expectations and class constraints.

The full project report and other other examples of funded projects can be found here.


  • The outcomes must be reported to the Awards Panel. A normal condition of a grant is that recipients write a blog for the BSG Ageing issues, or a paper is presented at the Society’s annual conference. 
  • Grants will not be made to support masters or doctoral research nor towards the general funds of an organisation.
  • The costs of providing services for older people are not funded.

For further details and information on how to apply please visit the BSG Website or email Karen Burnell at  Please note applications should be sent via email in the form of an attachment.

The closing date for applications is Friday 19 November 2021

Averil Osborn Symposium at the annual BSG conference

The Averil Osborn symposium is held at the annual BSG conference and brings together both academics and older people who have been involved in participatory research aimed at improving the lives of older people. The symposium promotes an interactive discussion about the benefits and challenges of this type of work. If you wish to participate in the next Averil Osborn Symposium, please contact Tine Buffel,

Please also consider making a donation

We rely solely on donations to continue to fund outstanding projects, therefore please do consider making a donation of any amount.  Please visit the BSG Website to see the different ways you can donate. Or please contact the Secretary of the Award, Karen Burnell,