Yet again, on Wednesday 25 April, the yearly Athletic Union Dinner was a great success. Nearly every AU sports team turned out in their numbers, dressed to impress. The Wycombe Swan Town Hall provided a delicious two course meal before we went on to have the main event of the evening. Our guest speaker was a little different this year. Award-winning comedian Nathan Caton took to the stage and provided quality entertainment for the crowd, he worked the room and interacted with everyone leaving people nearly crying with laughter.
After Nathan’s performance we went on to the most anticipated part of the evening, the awards! There were many awards up for grabs with a total of 36 nominees. The first award given was for RAG Contributor of the Year. This is a new award added this year to recognise an individual/club who has gone above and beyond for our two RAG charities. The much deserved winners of this award were BNU Dance for raising a staggering £1,500 for RAG this year.
The next award is to recognise an individual that has shown massive improvement over the last year, taking into consideration commitment and dedication to improve their sport, the Most Improved Player of the Year award. The winner was Badminton’s Abi Dudman. Abi has improved amazingly over the past two years, constantly trying to improve her fitness which shows on the court.
Next up was the award for Fresher of the Year. This year, the award went to American Football’s Lewis Taylor. Lewis, although being in his first year, stepped up into the fundraiser position when the club’s committee collapsed. When the American Football team was removed from Bucks, Lewis helped to continue the club as Flag Football. He was selected as Chair for next season and we expect he’ll do a fantastic job.
Next, we had the award for Coach of the Year. The winner was Alan Lane, the Men’s Rugby coach that helped turn around the team alongside Matt Gilbert. Unfortunately, Alan couldn’t be there to collect his award. He and Gilbert have helped rugby become one of the stand out male teams of 2017-18.
The award for Captain of the Year was next. This award went to Emily Harris for her commitment and dedication to BNU Dance. Emily is always the first to arrive and the last to leave, she also does a fantastic job of choreographing the advanced jazz team.
After a short interval, we continued with the awards onto Committee Member of the Year. Julie Botwood from Bucks Ladies FC claimed the prize. Julie has at one point this year fulfilled every position of the committee. She managed to get the rest of women’s football to pull their socks up, nearly win the league and achieve accreditation.
Team of the Year recognises the most successful team based purely on performance. For the third year running, Women’s Basketball received the award. They have had a fantastic year, winning their league and achieving promotion as well as reaching the final of the Conference Cup.
Club of the Year was next, recognising an entire club based on their overall success and achievements throughout the year. This went to Men’s Rugby, who have got involved in nearly everything this year. They reached accreditation, secured sponsors for the year and have also helped Wycombe RFC throughout the year.
Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year honours the best male and female athlete whose performance most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement. Sportsman of the Year went to Charlie Cotton, who’s a brilliant leader of the Men’s Rugby club. He has great knowledge of the game both as a player and a coach and displays fantastic speed and coordination on the pitch. Sportswoman of the Year went to Georgia Read, the captain and founder of the Women’s Rugby team. She led the Women’s Rugby team to win their first ever Varsity game and the first point for Bucks. She also plays for the women’s Football team where, although not her chosen sport, she continues to grow and improve.
Next up, came the Outstanding Contribution to University Sport. Vice President Education and Welfare, Lauren O’Shea, took to the stage to announce the first award in this category. This award went to four girls that have had a huge impact on sport at Bucks. Over the last three years they have been the backbone of Women’s Basketball and have helped the team achieve two promotions, two gold medals and one silver medal in the Cup. They have made Women’s Basketball the best team Bucks has ever seen and they fully deserved this award. Well done, Belen Lanzas, Andrea Gomez, Paloma Abreu and Sara San Millan.
The award for Outstanding Contribution to University Sport had another winner and Student Activities Manager, Catherine Lymer, delivered the speech for Lewis Newton. Lewis has been an imminent member of Bucks FC since his arrival. In his second year, he was given the position of Secretary and in his final year, became the Club’s Chair. After leaving Bucks last year, Lewis took on the role of coach for the boys. Sadly, Lewis is leaving us and moving home. He will be sorely missed and we wish him luck in where life takes him next.
The final announcement of the evening was a surprising one. The Hall of Fame is reserved for individuals who truly excel on the field. This system see’s us frame the playing shirt of each recipient and hang it, along with a short biography, in the Gateway building. This award is not given out each year, but only when an athlete truly deserves it. This year, we did have a recipient. The newly framed shirt belongs to Andrea Gomez from Women’s Basketball. Andrea is consistently one of our best Basketball players and statistically one of the top 4 players in the country. Andrea’s commitment and dedication to the sport and the team saw her number 22 shirt pinned and framed. This special award brought the evening to a close and staff and students headed to the Students’ Union for one of the best after parties of the year.
Every year there are individuals who have worked very hard and would have been shortlisted if we could have five nominees. Although this isn’t possible, we’d like to say that the efforts of the following individuals have not gone unnoticed: Christina Demetriou, Tao Warburton, Callum Skinner, Susu Sawer, Belen Lanzas Friere, Regan Cook, Luke Robertson, Riadh Bouzida, Hannah Peacock, Kwame Yeboah, Chloe Kimber, Sean Wright and Marie Vodickova.
There are a few more thanks that the Students’ Union would like to make. These are to Sean Wright who has been brilliant all year at taking photos of all the teams, and for all our excellent videos. The other person is Alix Todd, who has stepped in and helped at every turn this year. If someone has earned their outstanding contribution to sport award it has been Alix.
We look forward to next year’s Athletic Union Dinner where we will hopefully be celebrating another fantastic year of sporting success.