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Love York Awards with exclusive interview with James Durcan, YUSU President Elect

YUSU Sabbatical officers 2017/18 joined on stage by 2018/19 team
Credit: Robert Brown, The Yorker
YUSU Sabbatical officers 2017/18 joined on stage by 2018/19 team
Credit: Robert Brown, The Yorker

The Love York awards are an annual celebration of the achievements of all students at the University of York. The Yorker sent along its new News Editor, Robert Brown, to check out the event. Read to the end for a short interview with The University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) President Elect, James Durcan.


At 6pm on the 7th June 2018, complementary buses took the majority of the nominees and guests to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. A change of venue from previous years – Central Hall usually plays host. However, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre did not disappoint. A cosy venue that seemed perfect to host what promised to be a fun packed night.


Admittedly, at least one bus got a little lost on the way to the venue (which is slightly embarrassing considering First Buses York were not only a sponsor for the event, but Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director at First Bus York, presented an award). On arrival, the guests were greeted with complimentary drinks and canapes, and music by 24 live.

Love York Awards Red Carpet
Credit: Robert Brown, The Yorker

The ceremony itself was lively with a variety of hosts, speakers, and some performances by the Latin American society, York Hornets, and Dance society, along with a couple of videos from York Student Television (YSTV). The house band for the night, Dysfunktion, gave a jazzy and fun twist to the evening, playing on both hosts and winners. To the left of the stage throughout the evening there was a British Sign Language Interpreter, a move that was roundly commended as making the ceremony more accessible. The night ended with an impassioned speech from YUSU President Alex Urquhart who talked about a variety of issues including discrimination on campus, Brexit, Trump, and how humbled he is to see the students of York doing such amazing things. If you want to see the names of the winners, you’ll find a complete list at the bottom of this article.

At the end of the night, The Yorker spoke to President Elect, James Durcan about the awards:


How did you pick a winner?

“It was the most inspiring and, like, horrible thing being on a panel because when you’re picking a winner you’re not saying that the other people are losers. There were so many inspiring characters that showed such passion in what they’d done in making a difference to people or changing something in the university. So, it was horrible actually but really inspiring and we made sure were looking at all different aspects when we were picking a winner, and I guess I hope that came out during the night.”.


What do you hope the winners get out of being given an award?

“First of all, I think it gives them a bit of recognition. I think what came out of that was a lot of people on stage were unsung heroes, and whilst they might not have been doing it for themselves, it’s important that they realise that what they’ve done for a huge amount of people has been making a huge difference, and that’s been recognised. And I think that the whole evening as a whole will really inspire students now. York does so many great things, and students lead so many different things at York, and nights like this celebrating that will inspire people to go on and continue [to do good work].”.


Do you think YUSU does enough to reward those outstanding people in our community?

“I think YUSU has actually come a long way in the last few years in making sure people are recognised. We’ve got Colours Ball at the weekend for sports teams and we’ve got Excellence Awards for academics, and the Love York awards tonight [which has been] a really great evening. I think we can always do more. You saw there’s one person on the stage but so many people didn’t get recognition tonight, and we can always make more of an effort to say what these people have done. I think we’ve gone a really long way in actually recognising people and tonight has been testament to that.”.


You’re going to be President next year, so what will you do next year to make this awards ceremony better?

“I think it’s important it’s not just our decision. So, obviously, we’re working with a huge team and asking students what did you like about tonight, what did you think we could improve, and how can we recognise students’ opinions more. I really want to push for a bit more of a student voice on committees like that. So, [for example], a student committee for the summer ball and other events so students can have even more of an input than they do now. I think that we will just keep making better events because of that.”.


The winners of the 2018 Love York Awards, ordered as presented on the night:


The Diversity & Inclusivity Award: Connor Drake.

Campaign of the year: Darts Against Diabetes.

Contribution to Student Wellbeing: Aisling Musson.

The Volunteering Award: OpenMinds.

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award: Omar Shahryar – A Shoe Full of Stars.

Academic Representative of the Year: Aaron Bhalla.

The YuFund Fundraising award: Islamic Society.

The College Sport Award: Derwent College Athletic Football Club.

Society of the Year Award: Feminist Society.

The Student Media Award: Edwin Barnes.

The Best Event for Widening Participation: Comedy Society Women’s Show.

The Best Small Scale Community Event: Lecturers’ Strike Debate: Should students support the strike?

The Best Large Scale Entertainment Event: The York Showdown.

Committee of the Year: York Community Consulting.

The Extra Mile Award from Union President Alex Urquhart: Peter Redshaw.

The Extra Mile Award from Activities Officer Mikey Collinson: Kendra Rabbitts.

The Extra Mile Award from Academic Officer Julian Porch: Connor Drake.

The Extra Mile Award from Community and Wellbeing Officer Mia Shantana Chaudhuri-Julyan: Lucas North.

The Extra Mile Award from York Sport President Laura Carruthers: Francis Overton-Eccles.

The Outstanding Leadership Award: Sarin Zaveri.

The Honorary Award for Outstanding Contribution to the City of York: Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Outstanding Contribution to Student Life: Samara Jones.


Thanks to James Durcan for taking the time at the end of the night to speak to us, and thanks to YUSU for the invite.