UCLan welcomes Olympic and Paralympic athletes

15 March 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Event management students bring Kate Walsh and Rob Richardson to Preston

Two British athletes have brought their Olympic and Paralympic experiences to Preston thanks to a group of event management students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Great Britain hockey captain and Olympic bronze medallist Kate Walsh joined sitting volleyball captain Rob Richardson at the University for ‘A Conversation With’ event organised by first year events students. The duo were interviewed by award-winning sports journalist and author Sue Mott about their experiences of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Kate spoke of her now famous jaw injury that almost cut short her Olympic dream before a titanium jaw plate allowed her to be back on the pitch within six days. She said: “I don’t remember the pain. My mum was watching and the girls were worried so I decided to walk off the pitch and not be carried. I thought that’s it, game over, so I was really excited when I was told I had a chance of playing again. It was a complete rollercoaster of emotions and the GB team was very supportive.”

Rob, who was an ambassador for Sainsbury’s before the London 2012 Paralympic Games, had always wanted to follow his family’s sporting history despite being born with a disability in his right leg which resulted in an amputation below the knee.

He said: “The day after London won the bid in 2005 I contacted the British Paralympic Association because I knew I wanted to be involved.  I tried several sports including rowing before taking up sitting volleyball and have never looked back.”

Joelle Vella, a 19-year-old student who was part of the organisational team, said: “It’s been exciting to take part.  I didn’t expect to organise such a high profile event so soon but it’s been a great learning experience and the whole group have pulled together to make it work.”

The successful evening attracted an audience of over 100 people and was organised by six first year event management students under the guidance of their tutors. They also organised a VIP meet and greet hour.

The evening is one of several organised by first year event management students to show the realities of working in the events industry and provide the students with the practical experience they need.

Gabby Roberts was part of a team of seven who held a Bake-Off event at the University which attracted over 25 entries and was judged by local celebrity chef Paul Heathcote.

The 18-year-old commented: “It’s been stressful but fun and it’s a great feeling to see it all come together. This is the first event we’ve organised and I’m looking forward to the next project and improving my skills.”

Paul Heathcote added: “I was impressed with the students’ efforts; they’ve done a really professional job and put their hearts and souls into it. All of the girls should be pleased with their achievements.”