A new induction into the Sporting Hall of Fame

Famous alumnus Johnny Mowlem, has been inducted into the University’s Sporting Hall of Fame.

Johnny, who graduated from Geography and Spanish in 1988, is one of Great Britain’s most successful racing drivers; having been ranked amongst the top sports car and GT drivers in the world.

His career began in 1989, and a mere six years later he was crowned British Champion.

During his career Johnny has competed in every class of sports car world championship racing with victories and podiums at virtually all of the worlds major endurance events, including the 24 Hours of Daytona and the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours.

“When thinking about my career, what brings a smile to my face most, is the 24 hours of Daytona race. I was 16 times a competitor and 10 times on the podium, to win that race, was a real highlight!”

Johnny was inducted into the hall of fame at the sports scholarship awards evening. An event which celebrates the successful students who have been awarded a sports scholarship for the year head.

Prior to the evening awards Johnny spent time with the sports scholars talking about his career and success. Inspiring our students who are at the beginning of their own sporting careers.

In the future Johnny will continue to inspire our students by supporting the sports scholarship programme. Helping students in their aim to gain sporting success whilst still studying for a world class degree.

Johnny Mowlem with the head of sport and physical activity and head of the facilities directorate

Above: Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport & Physical Activity, Johnny Mowlem and Dennis Hopper, Director of Facilities Management.

You can take a look at the full Sporting Hall of Fame by visiting The Edge. It’s located alongside the sport scholarship board and you can read more about Johnny and all our other Hall of Fame recipients, who include:

  • Rebecca Gallantree, Sports Science 2005, Great Britain diver.
  • Carol Isherwood OBE, History 1982 and PGCE Education 1984, Great Britain rugby union player and founder of the Rugby Football Union for Women.
  • Andrew Shovlin, Mechanical Engineering 1995 and PhD in Mechanical Engineering 1999, Formula 1 Chief race engineer.
  • Ray French MBE, General Studies 1961, England rugby union and rugby league player, rugby league commentator.
  • Giles Long MBE, Geology 1997, three time Paralympic swimming champion
  • Simon Mason, Economics 1994, Great Britain hockey player and vice president of England Hockey

Find out more about Johnny by following him on twitter; @johnnymowlem


On the 3rd October 2018 history was made when the University of Leeds beat local rivals Leeds Beckett University to win their first ever Leeds Varsity.

Leeds Varsity is an iconic event in the city of Leeds’ sporting calendar, and consists of fixtures across the year culminating in one final day of competition where 50+ fixtures are played and the winner is crowned.

For the past 13 years Leeds Beckett have walked away with the trophy but this year was the turn of the Leeds Gryphons.

Going into the final couple of days of competition the gryphons were up 4-2 following the cross country, american football, Intra-mural varsity, cricket and futsal fixtures being played earlier in the year.

On Tuesday night two openers were played, Netball and Hockey. First the women fought hard in the netball and in the second half built up a small lead which they maintained to win 48 – 41 taking a point from Beckett. Over in the Hockey we weren’t so lucky with both men’s and women’s games ending in a draw and Uni losing out narrowly on penalty flicks.

This made the score 5-4 going in to the final day of fixtures.

All our students fought valiantly throughout the day with great determination knowing that every point really does count. Some of the highlights were badminton and volleyball taking a clean sweep of wins, volleyball men and women even won in straight sets. Over in the pool water-polo won both men’s and women’s fixtures to make that their ninth year undefeated.

Our men’s and women’s football first teams also won with the men coming back from 3-1 down to draw 4-4 and take the game to penalties.

Meanwhile on the hockey pitch our women’s fourth team made it look easy, winning by a huge margin of 13-2.

Many other teams had close games and narrowly missed out on points but everyone put in a huge effort, including the large crowds supporting each fixture throughout the day.

All the results from the day can be seen on the Leeds Varsity website here.

With so many fixtures happening throughout the day staff and students checked the website regularly to check what the final scores were, and just before the Rugby Union final took place it was confirmed.

The score was 30-28 to the University of Leeds, an historic moment.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University said

“We are so proud of how all our students performed across the various sports competitions, they gave it their all, demonstrating skill, fitness and expertise.

Our joint UOL and LUU staff teams have been exceptional in providing fantastic support to our students to enable this to happen. A true partnership in action.

We so hope that all University and Union staff can share in this success and wish our Leeds Gryphons well for the academic year on and off the field.”

Following the rugby union finale game played in the Emerald Headingly Stadium in front of over 10,000 people (in which Beckett took a significant win) Leeds University Union Activities Officer, Lauren Huxley and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tom Ward, had the pleasure of collecting the overall varsity winners trophy.


A proud moment for everyone at the University of Leeds.

Lauren said,

“We WON VARSITY! For the first time ever we triumphed over Leeds Beckett in the overall scores and took the Trophy! So a huge congratulations to everyone who was involved, we are so proud of every team, every member, and everyone who helped with the fixtures and events in any way!”

Bring on next year!

Raising mental health awareness with UoLBC

2018/19 is set to be an exciting year for the University of Leeds Boat Club. They’re gearing up to celebrate 100 years of the boat club in 2019 and their senior crews are both aiming for Henley qualifications off the back of their most successful seasons in 25 years.

They are also going big on pushing the mental health agenda. Their committee have all completed mental health training so that they can understand how best to support their members. And their two fundraising secs have just launched the Club’s support of this year’s chosen charity: Leeds Mind.


On Friday 5th October the club will be running their first charity fundraiser of the year: a 12 hour ergathon. Think a marathon, but on an indoor rowing machine. For 12 hours straight, they will keep the flywheel spinning, all in aid of a great, local charity. If you’ve ever been on the rowing machine you’ll know how difficult 12 minutes of rowing is, let alone half a day.

The rowers are going to have to dig deep and work as a team and will need all the support they can get. They will be outside the union from 8am-8pm, so pop over and say hi! You can find out more about the great work Leeds Mind are doing, and why UoLBC cares so much about mental health.

And this is just the start! Keep an eye out for Naked Calendars next month and more challenges on the ergs. There may even be an attempt on a world record.

Rowing at the University of Leeds

The boat club is still open to new members! They are experts in teaching people to row and have hundreds of opportunities. Coaching, volunteering, social rowing or high performance pathways (you can even get onto the GB Start programme), they welcome anyone who wants to row and work hard to accommodate everyone. Whether you have rowed before or not, want to get out on the water once or five times a week, get in touch with the guys at UoLBC.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leedsuniboatclub/

2018/19 Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/uolbc201819/

Email: uolbccaptain@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uniofleedsbc/?hl=en

University of Leeds Rowing Novice Men at BUCS Regatta 2018

Use 60 gyms nationwide at no extra cost

want free access to uni gyms across the country?

As part of the UNIversal Gym Membership scheme all staff and student annual premium Edge members can now access 60 gyms nationwide at no extra cost.

This fantastic member benefit is perfect for anyone visiting friends or family across the UK who want to use the gym in a different city. It also means that students can use the University gym closest to them at home when back for the holidays.

How does it work?

  • Buy your staff or student Annual Premium Edge Membership online here
  • Pick up your UNIversal membership card from The Edge reception
  • Take your student or staff ID card along with your UNIversal Gym Membership card to gain access to 60 University gyms across the UK

Check out the table below for a full list of all university gyms included in the scheme.

Can I get a UNIversal Gym Membership Card?

The UNIversal gym memberships are available to all staff and students who have an annual premium Edge membership.This also includes students in University halls who upgrade to a premium Edge halls membership.

The scheme is valid for all premium memberships bought after 1st July 2018.

If you’ve not got your Edge premium membership yet, buy it online now.

If you have any questions please email: edgemembershipservices@leeds.ac.uk to speak to a member of the team.

Which university gyms are included? 

All 60 university gyms listed below are included in the scheme and members can use any of these with their UNIversal membership card.

Bournemouth University Nottingham Trent University University of Leeds
Brunel University Oxford Brookes University University of Leicester
Buckinghamshire New University Royal Holloway, University of London University of Lincoln
Canterbury Christ Church University Sheffield Hallam University University of Liverpool
City, University of London St Mary’s University Twickenham University of Manchester
Coventry University University College London University of Nottingham
De Montfort University University of Bradford University of Plymouth
Edge Hill University University of Bristol University of Portsmouth
Goldsmiths University of London University of Chichester University of Roehampton
Keele University University of Cambridge University of Sheffield
Kings College London University of Derby University of South Wales
Lancaster University University of East London University of Southampton
Leeds Beckett University University of Edinburgh University of Stirling
London South Bank University University of Essex University of Surrey
Loughborough University University of Exeter University of Sussex
Manchester Metropolitan University University of Glasgow University of the West of England
Middlesex University University of Gloucestershire University of Warwick
Newcastle University University of Hertfordshire University of Winchester
Newman University University of Hull University of Wolverhampton
Northumbria University University of Kent University of York

This list is correct as of 10th Sept 2018. For the most up to date list visit the BUCS webpage here.

Professional Contract for Martin Andersson

Sports scholar and cricket all-rounder Martin Andersson has been awarded a two-year professional contract with Middlesex County Cricket Club.

After spending his university years playing for Leeds/Bradford MCCU Andersson has been given a full-time professional contract.  He has already been playing first-class matches for our MCCU but is now stepping firmly on to the professional scene.

Over the summer months Andersson has played a major role in Middlesex’s Second Eleven successes in recent seasons with both bat and ball. He even made his first eleven debut in Middlesex’s final Vitality Blast fixture of this year’s campaign against Sussex.

Middlesex’s Managing Director Angus Fraser commented:

‘Martin has made a really positive impression on everyone since leaving University. He has shown his adaptability by scoring hundreds in both T20 and red-ball cricket and he has bowled with control and discipline too.’

 After only a week since his signing Martin has been snapped up by Derbyshire. He is now on loan until the end of the season and is looking forward to what lies ahead.

Andersson himself commented:

“I am extremely proud to have been given this opportunity and am looking forward to the next two years here at Lord’s. I would like to thank both Middlesex and Derbyshire for giving me the fantastic opportunity of playing some first-class cricket.”

Andersson was named in Derbyshire’s squad to face Glamorgan, following Sean Irvine’s retirement from cricket. Bening selected in their starting eleven Andersson has made his County Championship debut.

Angus Fraser added:

“The loan opportunity for Martin Andersson with Derbyshire is a win, win situation for everybody. Martin is an exciting all-rounder and and he will only benefit from the experiences this loan move will involve. We believe he has the potential to develop into a fine cricketer.”

Highlights of the year 2017-2018

Varsity Womens Rugby

It’s been a roller-coaster year here at Leeds Sport. From our ongoing struggle to take the Varsity crown off Leeds Beckett to some huge successes at the Big BUCS Wednesday it’s fair to say we’ve had an exciting year.

The year kicked off to a wild start with another incredibly close Varsity result with Beckett only finishing 3 points ahead of us. However, it wasn’t all bad news as we claimed some momentous victories. Our women’s rugby team took the win over Beckett for the first time EVER! A humongous 177 students, staff and alumni helped us clinch the Varsity Parkrun point and Swimming and Water-polo remained undefeated in the pool for the 8th year running.

Coming so close to victory made us wish that snow sports offered Varsity points! Back in November We watched Gillian Finnerty and Jenny Davies storm to victory taking two golds each at the BUCS Dry-Slope Championships! There was no stopping them as Gillian managed to nab two silvers in the competition as well.

Our Ladies have really been on top form this year as Women’s Football 1’s breezed to the top of the Northern 1A Division completely undefeated. The Girls went from strength to strength as they made their way to Big BUCS Wednesday where they faced off against Portsmouth in the final for the BUCS Trophy. The girls sealed a successful season with a 5-0 victory taking home the trophy for the second year running. Our football team weren’t the only ones competing as the Women’s Rugby 1s also took to the stage. After a tough match the girls finished in a glorious second place against newfound rivals from Swansea University.

Although the girls have been storming to success the boys have been keeping pace. Two of our sports scholars headed to Australia over Easter to compete in the Commonwealth games. Tyler Smith found himself as the flag bearer for Bermuda before competing in the triathlon and Team England’s Kim Daybell brought home a silver medal in the Table Tennis.

Success didn’t stop there for the men though as our Rugby League and American Football teams received the Leeds Sport Award for student sport in March. All of their exceptional work on the ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ campaign has proved to the community how great our all our Gryphons are and the positive impact of sport on mental health. 

Success also struck for our infamous Korfball team. After playing the best teams from the North and Scotland in BUCS Regionals Leeds were on top form. Their first place finish took them to the BUCS National Championship where they finished 9th in the country! Having their most successful year yet it looks as though the only way is up for our team.

With such a great year for sport here at Leeds it makes sense to round it off with a few Varsity wins for the 2018 season. Back in January the men’s cross-country took the first point of the year. Our social sports teams also pulled of an exciting win giving us the intramural point and our Men’s Cricket team put on a fabulous display taking home our third point of the year. With 57 games still to come it’s all to play for. Hopefully our one point lead will put us at an advantage coming into October!  


Rugby League’s Sporting Star

George Milton Rugby

George Milton has recently been recognised by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) at their annual Star Awards.

From over 400 nominees George was listed as one of the three finalists for the ‘Most Committed’ TASS Star. The award is given to a TASS athlete who has shown dedication to both study and/or sport. This also includes excellent time management and balancing all level of demands from sporting and academic areas. With such tough competition being named as a finalist is a great achievement. There were so many fantastic nominations of such a high standard that George had to compete against.

George is currently studying Human Physiology and playing semi-professional Rugby League with the Bradford Bulls. He manages to do this whilst also playing for the university team as well as being their Club Captain. Juggling so many different commitments easily qualified George for a TASS Star. He has constantly achieved great results whilst meeting up to so many demands. From training to competition to full time education, George was recognised for his ability to thrive on the challenges that study and sport create.

We were delighted to see George walk away with the ‘Most Committed’ Star Award after such a challenging year. Here’s to another successful year for George and Rugby League!

The Boat Club Boy’s Henley Hopes

University of Leeds Rowing

A group of eight rowers and one cox from the University of Leeds have been putting their years worth training to the test.

Henley Royal Regatta is one of the most prestigious rowing events in the world attracting thousands of visitors every year. 2018 provides no exceptions with the third highest number of entries on record competing over five days. Over 100 international crews competed beside another 454 from across the UK, all searching for victory.

As visitors descended on the small town so did UOLBC in their bid for the Temple Challenge Cup. This particular event had 55 entries, from a whole range of clubs. Competition is incredibly tough with top crews from universities, colleges and schools all fighting for one of 32 places in the main event.  

After a successful early regatta season and a win at Peterborough Regatta the senior men’s squad have been working hard all year in preparation. 

With a crew made up from medics, mathematicians and engineers the boys had to work hard to fit their training in around exams and university life. Once the semester came to an end they threw themselves into full time training. One of the boys described the training:

‘It’s like a job but more work and more fun. We have to get up early most mornings to fit in a session before lectures and things start. Normally after a full day of uni we usually fit in another 1 or 2 shorter sessions in the afternoon to build up our fitness, working rowing specific muscles and improving our cardiovascular fitness. It’s great because we get to complete all our training as a team and that means there’s never a dull moment.’

With the whole crew committed to the Henley dream the rowers had been training three times a day. Working hard over the past few months the boys aimed to get into the best physical condition possible. To prepare they had been completing training out on the water at the boathouse to work on technique as well as working in our S&C Gryphon Room to improve their strength and mobility.

On the 23rd of June the team headed down Dorney Lake for Marlow Regatta to compete against other university crews in the Accademic 8+ category. Much of the competition they faced have been rowing from a very young age. However, half of our men’s crew has been formed by individuals only in their second or third year of rowing after having learnt at university. For these individuals to be competing at such a high level and standard of rowing is an outstanding achievement. Having the boys racing against other crews with many years of experience and practice there was going to be some tough competition.

The boys powered through their time trial to place them in the B Final, narrowly missing out on A Finals. Their final proved to be an exciting battle down the two kilometre course. With only milliseconds in it the boys managed to power through to finish in 1st place.

At this point the marshals had to make a decision on letting crews pre-qualify for Henley, meaning they avoid extra time trials the week after. However, they were particularly picky this year and so the boys stepped back to their training in preparation for their next race on the 29th of June which would make or break the Henley dream.

As qualifiers crept closer the boys got more and more anxious with only a few spaces left for the taking it was all to play for. They found themselves surrounded by 34 other eager crews that arrived from across the globe. Unfortunately, as the boys set off on their time trial the nerves began to get the better of them. Crews that Leeds had beaten only a week previously and throughout the season began to creep up the leader-board which unluckily for our boys meant they missed out on a place.

However it’s not all disappointment and frowns from the team as they still managed to have an amazing season. Coach Dan was proud of his team’s progress:

‘The club have done fantastically well to get this close to Henley. We have not been anywhere near the standard over the past few years so this is a great achievement for the boys. They should all be incredibly proud of their hard work. Seeing such strong development of the club and an increase in commitment, to what can be an incredibly challenging sport, is wonderful. I’m confident in the crew to make it further in the competition next year.’       


Students and staff volunteer in South Africa

South African student on a bike

This June ten University of Leeds students from a range of degree programmes and three staff members travelled to South Africa to volunteer in primary and secondary schools.

Over two weeks the Gryphons Abroad team made an impact on nearly 200 South African students lives over two projects.

Cycle to Success

The first project took place at Mnyakanya High School, in one of the poorest regions of South Africa where the team taught 30 students, both male and female how to ride and maintain bikes.

Frankii Darko, Gryphons Abroad student said,

“The cycle to success week of the trip has been amazing. To see students who had never been on a bike cycle by themselves and know how to fix them when something went wrong after only three days of teaching is pretty unbelievable!”

Read Frankii’s full blog here.

english student teaching african student to ride a bike

The team worked with Security Services and the Sustainability Bike Hub team to ship over eighteen recycled bikes which were refurbished after being abandoned on campus last year, as well as the tools and spare parts needed to fix the bikes when needed.

By the end of the week all students could ride a bike, most of which had never been on a bike before and nine students had all the skills and knowledge of road signalling to cycle on the main road.

south african fixing bikes and smiling

The skills the students have learnt are invaluable and many of them have already used the bikes to get to and from school, which for some was previously a two hour walk each way. The South Africa school teachers also spoke about the impact of the project on the students’ motivation, confidence and desire to succeed, and how the bikes were being used in the community,

“It’s not only the school that is benefiting from these bikes, it’s also the community. Learners who have learnt these skills are now showing others how to do it at the weekend. They learn a lot doing this project, they become motivated and go on to be something outside of the community.”

Inspire through sport and leadership

The second week of the project saw 160 South African primary school children learn a range of skills based around leadership, sport and education.

south african students playing cricket

The Gryphons Abroad team each led a classroom session based around their degrees, where everything from maths to mental health was taught. They also played a range of sports throughout the week as well taking part in leadership sessions where the South African students learnt the key skills needed to be a great leader such as, communication, organisation and planning.

male english stuident teaching South African students

The week culminated in the South African children leading activities of their own and putting what they had learnt into practice.

Finally on the last day the team went to a Zulufadder Orphanage where they got to meet and play with children who had lost their parents and were being looked after by an older sibling.

The trip was a huge success and has had a huge impact on both the students from the University of Leeds as well as the students from South Africa.

Watch the video and find out how you could be involved next year on the Gryphons Abroad Webpage.

The Gryphons Abroad project is run at part of the Bambisanani Partnership Charity.

Teaching South Africans to cycle

Gryphons Abroad

It has been an absolute honour to be a part of the Gryphons Abroad project this year!

The cycle to success week of the trip has been amazing. To see students who had never been on a bike cycle by themselves and know how to fix them when something went wrong after only three days of teaching is pretty unbelievable!

The children were all really friendly and to see how determined they were to learn was very inspiring.

group of south african students and leeds students smiling with bikes

I spent the majority of my week with the beginner group and you could how much progress the kids made in such a short amount of time. Our group shrank when more and more of them advanced to the intermediate and advance groups. I asked one girl whether she wanted to take a short break from peddling practice and she said,

“No, we must carry on”!

This was definitely a highlight of my day.

The children kept us on our toes the whole time and they definitely weren’t afraid to share their culture with us mid cycle session. If they weren’t teaching us a traditional Zulu dance, they were teaching us how to count to ten in Zulu. All of which I’ll remember for life.

It’s been an amazing experience! I’m proud to say I helped teach 30 kids how to ride a bicycle in just a few days. I am however even prouder to say that a group of 30 kids have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I discovered the perseverance the children had as well as the importance of Zulu culture in those same couple of days!

Find out more about the Gryphons Abroad project and how you could be a part of it on the Gryphons Abroad webpage.