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Jackie Towell

Jackie punching on the patio during a Fall Foliage Retreat at the Oxford Rug School in 2013.


This Scholarship was established by the Oxford Punch Needle Instructors Guild (OPNIG) in 2018 to honor Jackie Towell, who passed away in 2017. Jackie was one of our most dedicated Oxford Instructors, teaching countless people how to punch. She was also funny, kind and generous – in short, a wonderful role model for all Oxford Instructors.

Jackie Towell was British and taught in the United Kingdom, Long Island (New York), and later in Florida, where she and her husband retired. In addition to teaching classes and private lessons for adults and children, Jackie volunteered her skills to work with at-risk young people, hospital patients recovering from head injuries, and students with communication difficulties. 

While Jackie lived on Long Island she studied with the famous punch needle rug maker, George Wells. She’s the person who passed along the timesaving “thumb trick” from Mr. Wells that we use today. You can see Jackie’s work in Amy Oxford’s book, Punch Needle Rug Hooking.

In addition to her love of rug punching and teaching, the story of Jackie’s life is exceptional. She was a remarkable person and a true inspiration to everyone who met her. Jackie, her brother, and parents were prisoners of war during WWII in Manilla, starting when Manilla was invaded by Japan. She spent the entire war in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and went blind from malnutrition caused by starvation. After being released by the Americans, she had to spend two years in a dark room to regain her sight and spent the rest of her life suffering from other health problems caused by her internment.

Many years later Jackie was honored by the Japanese when they asked her to christen a ship. She has been honored at the British War Museum in an exhibit and ceremony honoring child prisoners of war and was also included in a book that was part of the exhibit called Young Voices by Lyn Smith.

In addition to this, she was also a British spy operating in the Far East and was able to help gather important information and received a medal for her service. This was top secret until a few years ago. 

By creating the Jackie Towell Scholarship, OPNIG wants to carry on Jackie’s legacy and assist someone who might not otherwise be able to finance the course, to attend the Oxford Rug Hooking School in Cornwall, Vermont and attain her or his Oxford Punch Needle Instructor Certification.


The scholarship is available to any student taking an Oxford Teacher Certification workshop at The Oxford Rug Hooking School or with any Advanced Oxford Certified Instructor. 

The awarding of the scholarship will be managed by the Board of OPNIG.

The OPNIG Board will undertake various activities to raise money for the Jackie Towell Scholarship fund. It welcomes contributions to the Scholarship fund at any time; donations will be gratefully acknowledged and charitable receipts for tax purposes will be provided for amounts over US$25.00. Checks or money orders must be in US funds, made out to the Oxford Punch Needle Instructors Guild with a note stating that the funds are to be directed to the Jackie Towell Scholarship. Donations should be sent to: 

Kim Scanlan
OPNIG Treasurer
4767 Dahlia Way N
Hugo, MN 55038


Eligibility: The Jackie Towell Scholarship welcomes applications from any student who qualifies to attend the Oxford Teacher Certification Program 

Application “Form”: The application for this scholarship is simply a letter to the Board of Directors of the Oxford Punch Needle Instructors Guild.  In the letter, applicants must include:

  1. Something about themselves and why they want to become a Certified Oxford Punch Needle Instructor;
  2. A description of their experience in punch needle work to date;
  3. A detailed estimate of their total cost to attend the school (e.g., travel, accommodation, course fees, materials) and how funding from the Jackie Towell Scholarship would help defray the cost and supplement their own resources; and
  4. A commitment to writing a short article for the Oxford Certified Instructors Newsletter within 6 months of receiving the Scholarship, should they be the successful candidate, and a suggested topic for the article.

Scholarship Amount: In 2024, one (1) $1400 scholarship to pay for tuition will be awarded to a student accepted into the Oxford Teacher Certification Program. Applications should be addressed to:

Kim Scanlan
OPNIG Treasurer
4767 Dahlia Way N
Hugo, MN 55038

Applications may be sent either by regular mail to the above address, or by email to:


The Board of Directors of OPNIG will meet to review applications and determine who will receive the scholarship. The Board will base its decision on the following factors:

  • Experience in punch needle rug making
  • Commitment to becoming an active Oxford Punch Needle instructor
  • Financial need

The names of the applicants will remain confidential.

Jackie Towell Rug

Jackie Towell was a graduate of the 2009 Oxford Teacher Certification Program and she completed this beautiful rug as part of her homework. The rug is 2' x 3'.

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