Journalism students spend a night with the sporting stars

13 February 2018

More than 50 journalism students grasped the opportunity to help produce the biggest sports awards night of the year

It was a night to remember for journalism students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) as they helped on the production of the annual Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) awards in December.

Around 50 students from journalism and sports journalism courses travelled to the Echo Arena in Liverpool, taking the opportunity to help the BBC produce its most prestigious sporting awards event.

The event, which has been running since 1954, was won by British athletics legend Mo Farah and was watched by a capacity crowd of 11,000 on the banks of the River Mersey, with nearly 10 million watching at home on television.

The students were involved behind-the-scenes on the evening and were particularly prominent during rehearsals when they stood in on stage for some of the stars. Rob Gill, a third year sports student, was particularly pleased to get the opportunity to sing with Noel Gallagher’s band until their lead singer arrived.

Third year journalism student Ellie Cutts was also involved in rehearsals – she took the role of SPOTY nominee Heavyweight Gold Taekwondo World Champion Bianca Walkden and was quizzed by SPOTY host Clare Balding.

“It was a bit daunting being interview by Clare but she was smiling throughout which really helped me,” said Ellie. “She really put me at ease because I felt on the spot as admittedly I knew nothing about taekwondo.

“Clare was brilliant and to get on the stage even during the rehearsal was amazing.”

The opportunity arose after UCLan sports journalism lecturer Gerrie Byrne was contacted by her colleagues at the BBC asking for volunteers to help at the event, and Ellie was grateful for the fantastic opportunity.

“UCLan gives us so many opportunities to go and prove our skills in the real world. This university is amazing with the chances it gives us both inside and outside our lessons.

“Being able to apply skills we’ve learnt to a real-life scenario is massive for confidence. It was so exciting and surreal at the same time being there and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”