Wednesday 8th December 2021

The Best Bits from Festive Gathering 2021

To bring down the curtain on 2021, we celebrated with our annual Festive Gathering – connecting our members and partners and volunteers for an afternoon of inspiration, innovation and collaboration. Read our highlights here!

For the second year running, the SSS Festive Gathering returned in a virtual format.  Members, partners and volunteers from across the  SSS network came together for an afternoon of inspiring speakers, engaging in future-focussed workshops and a welcome chance to catch up with colleagues from across the country.

The action began on Monday with the launch of the final #SSSPOD of the year! In our final episode of the year Stew and Gav took a look back at some of the best bits from 2021. Joining us to discuss their best moments we welcomed a decorated line-up of sports sabbs, institutional staff, sports chairs and volunteers. Delegates were encouraged to listen to the podcast in advance of the gathering and to get active whilst doing so – a perfect start to the day!

After business was taken care of and accounts approved in the general meeting the action got underway with an inspirational presentation from Dr Adam Hawkey. Adam holds positions with Southampton Solent University and the University of Dundee, as well as having worked with NASA in the past. Adam helped us to look more closely at how sport is delivered at our institutions and where we can seek to add value to the student experience. Adam focussed on ‘Lockdown Legacy’ and how sport and physical activity can guide the nation’s recovery out of the pandemic. Following Adam’s insightful presentation the virtual room split off into different breakout rooms to discuss some of the key themes in more depth.

Key takeaways;

  • Student sport is a fantastic place to try new activities and to meet new people – more recently, there is a much stronger understanding of the benefits that being physically active have to social health. The next step is identifying how we measure/capture these benefits to use them to our advantage.
  • There has been a change in attitudes post-pandemic. Recreational sport is becoming more sought after among the student population and it is important that we create more opportunities for students in this area of work.
  • The student ask is changing and the way facilities are used might change to suit a broader range of student participants.

Following on from those discussions we enjoyed a fantastic panel focussing on performance sport. Tokyo Gold medallist Charlotte Henshaw gave us some insight into life in a Paralympic village. Charlotte was joined by David Bond (Head of Performance at the University of Stirling) and Chris Purdie (SSS) who spoke about the role of performance sport for institutions. Sarah Gandon (SSS & Netball Players Association) chaired the panel with discussions ranging from how can we better support student-athletes at the performance level to their best bits of ‘sports stash’! We also got a sneak peek of Charlotte’s Tokyo 2020 gold medal!

To round off the day, our new SSS Equality Chair, Kevin Harper, joined the call for a quick Q&A. Kevin spoke about what he aims to achieve in his new role and his plans to make student sport more inclusive for all.

Huge thanks to all our speakers, guests and attendees for their contributions throughout the day. It was great to see so many faces again and we look forward to our next official get together (in person) at the SSS Conference in June 2022! Enjoy a well-earned rest over the festive period and we look forward to catching up in the new year.

📽️ Check out our highlights in our 20/21 Annual Review 👇