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‌Athletic Union Dinner Awards 2020/21

The Athletic Union Dinner Awards 2020/21

The Athletic Union Dinner Awards ceremony recognises exceptional commitment and talents in student each year.

A Year Overview by 2020/21 AU President Ben Hart. 

It has been an absolute pleasure being your Athletic Union President for 2020/21. Patience and resilience have begrudgingly been the Athletic Union’s buzzwords of the year. All 50 clubs have done tremendously well to survive this rocky year and have provided a point of social engagement and stimulation for students that has otherwise been in short supply. Here at the Athletic Union, we are immensely proud of all that you have achieved – keeping each other sane and juggling the hectic demands of being a student, an athlete, a committee member, and an ambassador.

The highlight of the year has of course been Movember. The campaign brought you all together in your thousands. The sum of over £200,000 raised shows how we all played a role in widening the conversations around mental health, prostate and testicular cancer, and generally working as a team to achieve tangible, lasting change. So many of our students did their utmost to breakdown the stigma around mental health within the University community and to encourage people to speak up about how they’re feeling, and check in on their friends and family. Exeter really is a community comprised of selfless and passionate students, who care deeply about helping others and, as the tagline for Movember says, changing the face of men’s health.

During the months without activity we also saw a number of student-led campaigns come to the fore and help the student sport experience to evolve. These campaigns have helped to improve our core programme and the dedication shown by these students to help student sport evolve has been one of the most heart-warming aspects of this year. One such campaign was the #weneedtotalkcampaign. This initiative, led by AU members, raised over £2,000 for Devon Rape Crisis, a local charity to support those who have been victims of sexual assault. You’ve proven it on the pitch time and time again, but this year you proved it off the pitch – our students are why we are one of the best sporting institutions in the UK.

Furthermore, we have collaboratively made more progress in improving mental health and well-being support. We have introduced mentor schemes to all 50 clubs to support first years in the transition from school to University. We’ve dedicated time to educating the student body about how to tackle the challenges we face in the sporting world using Beyond Equality (formerly The Good Lad Initiative), the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity team and our own sports welfare consultant. We’re continuously adapting our multifactorial approaches to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity. More so than ever this year, students are at the heart of tailoring our support services. As a result the Athletic Union is becoming increasingly transparent year on year; a body that is both representative and reflective of our students. 

A special thanks must go to the entire Student Sport team without whom this year would literally have been impossible. Enhancing the student experience is always our motivation and this year more so than ever the student body have been the driving force behind us, and you guys have helped to make Exeter University sport what it is today. My love for this City and University, and gratitude for the friends and colleagues who have all made my time here absolutely remarkable are both immeasurable. I’m sure many of you reading this will feel the same thankfulness. Where else would we have wanted to see through a pandemic?

Now, as you all embark on the next steps of your exciting journeys, please do remember us; the buildings and the faces may change but your memories will last a lifetime.

It is a massive achievement for a student to receive recognition for their hard work over the year and in return the awards are a chance for the Athletic Union to show their appreciation. The commitment and enthusiasm of our student athletes despite their academic priorities has been beyond exceptional both on and off the pitch. From achieving numerous league and cup victories, to supporting the AU’s campaigns and events, and making sport and physical activity accessible to as many students as possible - our students continue to prove why we are one of the best sporting institutions in the UK. For that reason we would like to say thank you to our student committees and the recipients of today’s awards (2020/21 AU Dinner Award Winners) for the incredible amount of effort to run their clubs while completing their studies.

You will inevitably cross paths with your peers from this amazing institution in a few years’ time, and there will just be a look, and you’ll remember just how special some days in your life are. Wherever you go, whatever you do, Bleed Green.

Date: 2 July 2021