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University of Gloucestershire students shortlisted for national Volunteer of the Year Award

Two University of Gloucestershire students have been shortlisted for a national volunteer award for their important contribution to a scheme that makes swimming more accessible.

Ethan Fincham and George Kelman-Johns have reached the final of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Chris Potter Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2023 after delivering free swimming lessons and swimming sessions for the Swim 4 All initiative at the University.

The student-led scheme, supported by the University’s UniSport department, provides all the University’s 12,000 students and 1,500 staff with access to free social swimming sessions and swimming lessons, with tailored support in place to overcome obstacles to participation, such as a lack of confidence around water or concerns about swimwear.

volunteers for swim4all

Both qualified swimming coaches, Ethan and George have been shortlisted jointly by BUCS – the national governing body of university sport in the United Kingdom – for the Student Volunteer of Year Award in recognition of their contribution to the University community.

Ethan, the University’s Swimming and Water Polo Club Captain, and George have already won the BUCS South West Student Volunteer of Year Award 2023.

Their volunteer hours that went into setting up the programme included securing pool time, lifeguard cover, insurance and the right level of equipment to cater for beginners upwards and more. They launched the idea through dedicated social media channels and worked hard to gain sponsorship so it could be run free of charge, and to produce physical advertising materials to reach those students and staff not on social media. More than 20 people have been attending each session since January 2023.

swimming lesson in indoor pool

Paige Archer, Activities and Opportunities Officer for the University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Ethan and George have been shortlisted jointly for the BUCS Chris Potter Student Volunteer of the Year 2023 and we’ll be rooting for them in the national final.

“They came to us with the idea and have both given up their free time on a regular basis to provide many of our students and staff with the benefit of their coaching expertise and experience, playing a major part in the success of the Swim 4 All scheme.

“Ethan and George are excellent role models and fabulous examples of student leaders in sports teams volunteering to do amazing things for other people in the University community.

“Many thanks to everyone who has supported the delivery of the Swim 4 All programme,  particularly our colleagues from UniSport, who have been a key part of supporting Ethan, George and the other volunteers to lead the sessions.”

The winners of the 2023 BUCS Awards, which feature several categories to recognise achievements in university sport, will be announced on Thursday 13 July.