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Leeds Sports Awards Winners

to men standing together in rugby and american football kit

The 2018 Leeds Sports Awards was a big day for sport in Leeds as the city celebrated the achievements of athletes, coaches and sports volunteers in 2017.

Celebrations took place in the First Direct Arena where sports-people of all levels and abilities from across the city alongside their coaches, volunteers, sponsors and supporters all came together to celebrate Leeds’ proud sporting heritage and commend the achievements of this year’s nominees in true style.

A whole host of awards were up for grabs and many of the nominees have been involved with the University of Leeds over the years. Alumni, current students and honorary degree holders were nominated over a diverse range of categories giving them plenty of opportunity for recognition of all their efforts and achievements in sport.

The winners and nominees

One of the biggest successes of the evening was the nomination and win from our very own Rugby League and American Football teams. They beat off some fierce competition from Leeds Beckett University Hockey to jointly win the ‘Student Sport Award’  for all their hard work on the ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ campaign, highlighting the positive power of sport. Their campaign has promoted the importance of mental health awareness across the University and got people talking, as well as raising thousands of pounds, for mental health charities. This award gives them recognition from across the city for the fantastic work they are doing.

Jess Bassett, Activities Officer at Leeds University Union said:

It has been an absolute privilege to get to know and work along side Andrew and Aaron on the it’s OK not be OK campaign. It was amazing to see all of the hard work and fundraising efforts from both clubs recognised when they won this award. This campaign has increased the awareness of male mental health in particular and raised money for two very special charities, and alongside celebrating this success we must keep working hard to tackle this because it is OK not to be OK.

On the night Jess Learnmouth won the sportswoman award, Jess trains with the Leeds Triathlon Centre at the University’s facilities including The Edge and The Brownlee Centre. She took home the award beating a number of fantastic athletes including Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams OBE who received an honorary degree from the University in 2015.

Cecilia Allen a Leeds alumna received a highly commended award in the Young Club Team Performance award with the Yorkshire CCC U17 girls, a team she manages. Fellow alumni Dr Malcolm Brown MBE and Jack Maitland also received a highly commended award in the Performance Coach award for their work with triathletes at the Leeds Triathlon Centre. The triathlon theme continued in Tom Bishop who graduated from Leeds in 2013 and was nominated for the Sportsman of the Year award.

The night was a fantastic celebration of sport and a wonderful evening for all. We send a huge congratulations to all the finalists and we are hoping for even more success next year.

A full list of the winners can be found on the Leeds Sports Awards website.


University Sport Scholars Celebrated

University of Leeds group shot of sport scholars

This week the University of Leeds Sports Scholars were celebrated at a presentation evening hosted by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Yu.

Over 60 students from a a range of academic schools studying everything from Medicine and Surgery to Engineering have been awarded Sports Scholarships. These scholarships support them in their athletic and academic ventures, enabling them to perform at their highest sporting ability alongside their studies.

The evening celebrated these athletes and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu gave a talk about how he believed that sport is a global language and we as a University are proud to support these athletes in their endeavours across the globe, wishing them every success for the years ahead both in their academic and sporting careers.

Kim Daybell playing table tennis

The evening also celebrated two students; Kim Daybell and Tyler Smith who are preparing to fly to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games next month. Kim will be representing England in Table Tennis and Tyler will be representing Bermuda in Triathlon, a fantastic achievement made possible by their commitment to their sports, as well as their academic schools having the flexibility to allow them to go and compete.

Kim has been a Sport Scholar at the University for 7 years and he shared his experiences about his time here at Leeds, encouraging all the scholars sat in the room to work hard to achieve their sporting dreams and to utilise the support available to them through the Sport Scholarship programme. Kim emphasised how much the University had helped and supported him and without this he would not have been able to train and compete at two Paralympic Games; London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity said:

“It was a great celebratory event of our gifted and talented Sport Scholars, made extra special this year being able to wish both Tyler and Kim good luck for their endeavours at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. It seemed so fitting to be hosted by our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Relations, Professor Yu who was a very welcomed guest and spoke eloquently about how proud the University are of our sporting scholars as they represent us across the world in the sporting arena”

This year the University has over 60 scholars competing across a huge range of sports, from snowboarding to canoe polo and everything in-between. They compete at a range competitions individually and with their university team while working towards their sporting goals which they set at the beginning of the year.

The Sports Scholarship programme at the University of Leeds provides all our scholars with a bespoke package of support that meets each individuals needs. Following the University’s unique approach every athlete is given a personal mentor who helps ensure that a healthy balance between University work and sporting success is achieved. Our scholars are also supported with free Edge access, physiotherapy and a personalised strength and conditioning programme as well as a bespoke bursary to help ensure they can meet the financial demands of performance sport.

We hope that soon some of our other scholars will be joining Kim and Tyler competing and achieving great things all over the globe.  

Take a look at all our Sport Scholars below and find out more about our Sport Scholarship programme online.

Win £50 Amazon and Refresh vouchers

Balancing life survey complete to win £50 amazon and refresh voucers - text on a picture of someone walking on grass

Help us to support your activity and wellbeing on campus by filling out the 2018 Balancing Life Survey. Plus you could win a £50 Amazon Voucher or Refresh Card!

Last year’s Balancing Life Survey found that 77% of staff and students at the University of Leeds are active, with 60% of the activity they take part in happening on campus. A survey of this type had never been completed before and it gave great insight into the activity and wellbeing levels of staff and students. Take a look at the full results online here.

The insight gained from last year’s survey has raised the importance of staff and students health and wellbeing on campus, and this has had some fantastic results;

  • The Student Education Services have appointed two full time interns with a focus on improving staff health and wellbeing.
  • The University of Leeds, via the Wellbeing, Safety and Health department are about to recruit a full time role for promoting staff health and wellbeing.
  • Results helped raise the importance of staff being more active and promoting health and wellbeing to colleagues in their own teams as demonstrated by the hundreds of Healthy Week Heroes we had.
  • Sport and Physical Activity has seen an increase in schools across the University engaging with the staff wellness programme

These are all great steps forward and this year’s survey will help to give even further insight and see if there has been a change in results from last year.

This year’s survey is now live for staff and students to complete until the 18th March and all students who fully complete the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win one of three £50 Amazon Vouchers, and staff will be entered into a prize draw to win one of three £50 Refresh card vouchers for buying food and drinks on campus. Fill out the survey now!

All survey responses are anonymous and will be used to provide the University with the insight to provide programmes and offers that fit the wants and needs of the staff and students at the University of Leeds.


University host junior parkrun

children running

Ten years ago the Sport and Physical Activity service at the University of Leeds started the third parkrun in the country on Woodhouse Moor. Since then parkrun has grown rapidly with 202,495 events in 17 countries worldwide! 

Following the University’s close relationship with parkrun and the opening of The Brownlee Centre and Cycle Circuit last year, Sport and Physical Activity and parkrun have teamed up once again, this time to launch a junior parkrun. The Bodington junior parkrun will take place on the University’s cycle circuit where children (aged 4-14yrs) will complete a 2km loop.

parkrun is all about inclusiveness, wellbeing and bringing together people in the community, the Bodington Cycle Circuit is the perfect location to achieve this with the tarmac circuit used for the run and The Brownlee Centre providing an indoor space for a drink and place to talk after the event.

The University invested £5m to create these facilities last year and one of the key aims is to provide space for members of the local community to use. Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at The University of Leeds said;

“We are committed to providing facilities where we can, for keeping the local community as active as they can be. So we are delighted to be able to support and host the Bodington Junior parkrun.”

Sport & Physical Activity have provided the £3k funding to launch this parkrun, which has bought the equipment needed to run the event. They are also providing the facilities for free, displaying their commitment to providing opportunities for children to be active.

“Encouraging children to be physically active at an early age is creating habits for life. We are keen to do this alongside encouraging young people to be aspirational about coming to study for a world class degree at the University of Leeds.

parkrun is a great inclusive offer; I love taking part in my local parkrun on Saturday mornings and would encourage everyone to get involved as a participant, a volunteer or a supporter.”

Suzanne Glavin

The Bodington junior parkrun launches this Sunday (25 February) at 9am and if you would like to get involved all you need to do is register on the website here. You only need to do this once then just turn up on the day.


International Student Exercise Classes Success

This Christmas, the University of Leeds flagship fitness facility – The Edge, offered a unique series of free exercise classes for its international students and the wider Leeds Global Community.

The classes included the ever popular, Les Mills Body Pump and Body Combat along with some brand new virtual led classes taught in Mandarin. The University of Leeds has invested significantly in their Group Exercise Timetable providing one of the largest programmes in the country, with over 220 classes on offer per week during term time.

Suzanne Glavin (Head of Sport) said; “It’s really important that we make sure that our sport and group exercise class provision at the University of Leeds meets all our students’ needs, including our international students. We were grateful and delighted to capitalise upon our strong collaborative working with Les Mills. We were delighted that we could pilot their excellent virtual classes, and be the first to launch those taught in Mandarin. Our international Chinese students who remained in Leeds over the Christmas period enjoyed a taste of home through taking part in Mandarin virtual group exercise classes“.

The Edge now has a fully kitted out virtual studio, offering a range of virtual classes for both beginners and the more experienced exercise class goer.

155 class bookings were made over the two weeks of Christmas for this new venture and feedback received from the students was resoundingly positive.


I think it’s a really brilliant idea to put these classes during December, especially for international students. I really enjoyed the class, there were loads of weights and bars available which was good. I would definitely attend again! Thanks for putting them on!” – Miranda

I attended two virtual classes and they were very good, especially that the instructions were in Mandarin. I enjoyed them and realised that I really need more exercises. I’d like to book again if similar classes will be available in the future” – Huiming 

The Edge has been recognised at the National  Fitness Awards over three consecutive years, coming runner-up in the National Group Exercise Award category in 2017.


Leeds Sports Awards Sponsor

We are proud to be supporting the city’s annual sports awards this March, where hundreds of people will come together to celebrate the success of athletes, volunteers, coaches and spectators over the past year.

At the event we are sponsoring the club/team performance award which has the following finalists:

  • East Leeds Swimming Club (Masters)
  • Leeds Gymnastics Club
  • Matty Lee & Lois Toulson

You can see the full list of finalists on the Leeds Sports Awards website. We wish all the finalists good luck for the night and look forward to celebrating everyone’s success over the past year.

The University of Leeds is a key partner of Sport Leeds; the district activity partnership for the city. We work collaboratively alongside the other Sport Leeds partners towards the shared vision to make Leeds the most active big city in England, by making sport and physical activity accessible for everyone.

Supporting events such as the Leeds Sports awards cements our commitment to this vision and our partnership with the city.


University staff and students more active than the general population

woman doing yoga

77% of staff and students at the University of Leeds are active, with 60% of the activity they take part in happening on campus.

The latest insights from the Balancing Life survey which took place in March 2017 are available to view online here, and show that University of Leeds students and staff are more active than the general population in the UK, however Leeds students are less active than the average higher education population.

The Balancing Life Survey, ran by the Sport & Physical Activity Service (SPA) at the University has given real insight into the activity levels of staff and students at Leeds, as well as their relationship to being active and a snapshot of their wellbeing. Of the people that completed the survey 77% were active, while 23% were insufficiently active or inactive. Staff were 3% more active than students and 60% of activity that people take part in happens on campus. This is a figure that SPA are committed to increasing and through collaborative working with departments across the University SPA is looking for ways in which activity can be incorporated into staff and students lives on campus. Ideas such as lunchtime yoga in meeting rooms and lecture theaters as well as walking meetings are just some of the initiatives that could be introduced.


When asked directly about their relationship to sport and physical activity, 51% of people ‘do it regularly and are sticking with it’, 6% are ‘not considering it’ and 43% are ‘thinking about it, have looked into options and are just getting involved’. This 43% are the people that SPA are working to support so they begin to create positive habits for life.

The aim of the survey was to establish and better understand the current activity levels of students and staff at the University of Leeds, while also taking into consideration their wellbeing. It has been a great success and is creating opportunities for SPA to pilot interventions that will encourage faculty, staff, student and the public’s participation and involvement in physical activity and sport at the University of Leeds. This is a key aim of the University’s sport and physical activity strategy which you can view online here.

3 points away from Varsity History

Cheer leaders holding up UNI signs

Into its 13th year of the competition, Leeds Varsity 2017 was as competitive as in recent years, resulting in the Gryphon’s narrowly missing out with an overall score of 32 – 29 to Leeds Beckett University. The score reflects the closing of the gap between the two where just one or two fixtures could have clinched it for the University of Leeds.

Leeds Varsity, the ultimate university sporting competition see’s University of Leeds take on local rivals Leeds Beckett in a calendar of fixtures beginning in January and finishing with a grand finale in October. The October events kick started on the Saturday with parkrun Varsity in which 177 students, staff and alumni got out of bed at 9am to represent UoL and claim an easy victory over rivals Beckett who only managed a mere 36.

Following last year’s successful introduction, Varsity Netball returned with well over 300 spectators who cheered the University of Leeds as they took on the Beckett side who currently play in the BUCS league above. Despite a highly competitive game, Beckett came out on top to win the game 38-29.

2017 saw the introduction of another new Tuesday night event; Varsity Hockey where both the Men and Women’s first teams took to Sports Park Weetwood to battle it out for two all important Varsity points. With close results in both it was Beckett who claimed both points with the men winning 1-0 after a goal in the last five minutes. In the women’s game, the final score finished 3-1 to Beckett despite an impressive drag flick converted by the University of Leeds’ Katie Hopkisson.

The finale Wednesday was packed with intense competition and both universities battled hard against each other throughout the day. The Gryphon’s started the day off trailing 8-2 so had to work hard to try pull some points back. They dominated in the pool, effortlessly winning both the Men and Women’s Swimming gala and securing victories in both Men & Women’s Waterpolo making them undefeated for the 8th year running.

There was fierce competition elsewhere at The Edge with the University hosting the Basketball and Korfball. After some hard battled fixtures, the University came out on top in the Korfball with an impressive 13 – 4 victory. However, Beckett did the triple in the Basketball with victories in all three fixtures.

Indoor rowing, usually a certain victory for the Gryphons, ended up being voided as a fixture due to Beckett racing rowers in incorrect categories.

Over at the Gryphon Centre, the home teams took easy victories in the squash with 4-0 and 5-0 victories. It was a different story in the handball though, with Beckett securing wins in both the men and women’s games.

Meanwhile up at Sports Park Weetwood, it was evenly match in the women’s football with the Gryphons 3rd team taking a 2-1 victory, the 2nd team just missing out as a result of penalties, and the 1st team losing 2-1. In a dramatic extra time finish, the Women’s Lacrosse team edged the victory over their rivals 6-5. A comfortable win in both Men’s Hockey games added two points to the Gryphons tally.

Down the road at Beckett, the university netball teams put in a sterling performance with wins from the 3rd and 4th teams with the 2’s only just missing out 35-33. Beckett used the home turf advantage with a white wash of victories in all 6 tennis matches for the second year in a row. Playing away didn’t deter volleyball with 3-0 wins in both men and women’s fixtures.

The Varsity day culminated with the men’s rugby union finale at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. In an unusual year with the crowds separated behind the goal posts, the overall scores were nail bitingly close leaving the rugby union side going out on to the field trying to reduce the gap to just a single point. The boys put in a valiant effort but it was a physical, league above, Beckett side who pulled away with a 29 – 8 victory.

Claiming that final Varsity point settled the scores at 32 – 29. Congratulations to Leeds Beckett University for their overall victory and well done to all players, coaches, volunteers, staff and spectators for the huge commitment and dedication to Leeds Varsity 2017. Thank you also to RAG for raising an impressive £362 for a fantastic cause, State of Mind, and to our student media societies for their coverage of the game.

A full list of the results can be found here, and keep an eye out on our social media channels for photo’s and videos from the day.


Change Lives In South Africa

students helping a south african student to ride a bike

Our Gryphons Abroad project is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop your skills whilst changing the lives of young people in South Africa.

In June we will travel to South Africa and deliver a unique project which aims to raise aspirations through activity and leadership. This student led project is a fantastic opportunity for you to gain a huge amount of skills and experience which will set you apart once you leave university.

What Will the Project involve?

uni student high fiveing sa studentYou will spend two weeks in South Africa, the first week inspiring students through sport and the second teaching them to ride and maintain bikes.
In the first week you teach leadership skills, sports activities and a range of classroom lessons to over 100 primary school children, culminating in a day where the South African students lead in organising a range of activities and a sports festival.
The impact of this week is invaluable to the employability of the students in this deprived area as they are taught valuable skills as well as gaining a huge amount of confidence in their ability.

“Gryphons Abroad is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done, I had the best time doing things I never thought I would get the chance to do.”
Amy Grabe, Philosophy Student

students holding up bike wheelsThe second week involves teaching 20+ students to ride and maintain their own school bikes. Travel to and from school in these areas can be an issue due to the distance between home and school (up to 2 hours walk) and this is a barrier to some students accessing an education. You will teach students a skill which can be life changing, this impact is especially clear with young girls as cycling is not a skill that is traditionally taught to women in their culture.

To pay for your place on the trip and donate towards the project costs e.g. buying bikes you will be required to fundraise £2000 over 8 months. This is a challenge which will develop your skills and contribute towards your employability.

“Don’t worry about the fundraising because it seems like a lot of money at the start but it is literally so easy, and such a miniscule part of the process to get to such an amazing country and work with like-minded people that you’re probably going to be friends with for a long time.”

April Leeson, Language Student

Join the Team
We want enthusiastic and motivated students from across the University to join our team for 17/18. The project is open to all students and no prior experience in a sports setting is needed. So if travelling to a different country and experiencing a new culture while leading on a project and making a clear impact on students’ lives in South Africa sounds like it’s something you would like to be a part of the make sure you apply before the 1st October 2017.

We’ve made the application process as simple as possible, all you need to do to apply is email Tilly ( answering the following question:

Why do you want to be part of the team and what could you offer?

Your answer needs to be a maximum of 1 side of A4 and emailed to Tilly ( by midnight on the 1st October 2017.
Interviews Will Take Place: w/c 2nd October

Got any questions? Email Tilly: or take a look at the Gryphons Abroad Webpage.

Varsity Hockey Comes to University of Leeds

male hockey player dribbling the ball ready to be tackled by male opponent

Leeds Varsity are excited to announce a brand new event in the 2017 series. Varsity Hockey will see the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University battle it out for two Varsity points on the Tuesday evening the night before Wednesday’s Big Finale.

With both the women and men’s teams taking to the field, the event is set to be an evening of fierce competition. Given the clubs are two of our largest sports societies, the atmosphere is set to be electric. Even if you’re not familiar with the game, there will be commentary to keep you informed on the game and more importantly, the score.

To keep you entertained, there will be performances from LUU’s Freestyle Dance and Leeds Beckett Dancers on the night. Refreshments will be available from Dodsons catch Fish & Chips, our exclusive caterers for the evening, and drinks will be available from the view bar.

When? Tuesday 3rd October. Gates open 6pm. Women’s 1st XI pb 6.45pm, Men’s 1st XI pb 8pm.

Where? Sports Park Weetwood. Limited parking is available on a first come first served basis or the venue can be easily accessed by the number 1 or 6 bus from outside Parkinson steps for just £1 with your student card.

How much? FREE

If that’s not enough to convince you, hear from the club captain of the women’s hockey club herself, Molly Bret:

“We are extremely excited to be hosting the new hockey opener event this year! With all the hard work gone into planning the event we are sure it’s going to be a great evening and it would be great to see as many people there as possible. So please wear your uni colours, show your support and we will do our very best to grab hold of that much desired varsity point!”

To find out more about other Varsity events, head to the official Varsity Website or head to the Leeds Varsity social media channels; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.