The University of St Mark & St John’s Celebration of Sport in association with ITV Westcountry made a BIG splash!
VIP guests from teenage Olympic diving hopeful Victoria Vincent to one of Plymouth’s most famous swimming heroes Sharron Davies MBE agreed it was “a great night”.
Davies said: “Sport in Plymouth is in great shape and good hands.”
Davies was one of three high profile sports stars to receive honorary degrees during a night to remember at the University’s Desmond Tutu Theatre, hosted by ITV Westcountry’s Jacquie Bird.
Plymouth-born former Olympic swimmer Davies – now a prominent BBC television presenter for the sport – was recipient of a Master of Science honorary degree along with England Athletics South West Chairman Nigel Rowe MBE and world-famous Plymouth Diving coach Andy Banks, who is based at the city’s purpose-built Life Centre.
The conferment of three honorary degrees was a special part of a memorable celebration evening that also included the launch of the Making A Difference fund by University Director of Sport Stan Cinnamond, to help support the city’s up-and-coming young elite athletes.
The super seven to benefit from the Making a Difference programme are teenagers Victoria Vincent (diving), Matthew Dixon (diving), Kerenza Bryson (modern pentathlon), Tia Syms-Lymn (fencing), Charlotte Atkinson (swimming), Joe Hulme (swimming) and Katie Bradley (taekwondo).
The evening gave the University an opportunity to mark the summer success of double Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ben Proud and fellow University elite sport scholars, including top British divers Rhea Gayle, Robyn Birch and Megan Sylvester.
The University was honoured to welcome Glasgow 2014 Games diving synchronised silver medallists Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow to the stage along with Plymouth’s internationally-renowned swimming coach Jon Rudd, an honorary graduate of the University of St Mark & St John.
European individual champion Barrow is set to start a Sports Journalism masters at the University.
University of St Mark & St John Vice-Chancellor Professor Cara Aitchison said: “It was a wonderful evening to celebrate our recent sporting past and to anticipate future success.
“The event provided an opportunity to thank those who have already secured a place in sporting history and helped put Plymouth on the sporting map.
“We were able to formally launch the Making a Difference Programme which is designed to support Plymouth’s young athletes access world class facilities, coaching, sport science support and national and international competitions to enable our young people to achieve their full potential.
“This is an exciting time for Plymouth as we seek to unleash the full potential of sport.
“On February 19 next year the University of St Mark & St John will host a special summit at which we will seek to develop an outline City Strategy for Sport that will address the development of elite and community sport, the role of physical activity to promote public health, and place of sport in the supporting Plymouth’s economic growth.
“I hope that many will join us in that conversation as we seek to capture the power of sport.”
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