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News archive for August 2008

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News Archive

August 2008

Stirling's sports scholars aim for Olympic glory

Stirling golfers selected for world event

University to open against Hawick on Saturday

British record for Olympic swimmers - but no medal

Better care needed for people with cancer in Scotland

Stirling given key Olympic training role

Open Doors on Cancer Care

Football Centre opens on Stirling campus

Stirling is joint organiser of international suicide conference

Stirling hosts world dementia event

The dog who gets a buzz out of bees

Stirling's sports scholars aim for Olympic glory

Date released: Tuesday 5 August 2008

Two sports scholars at the University of Stirling, swimmers Todd Cooper (pictured left) and Andy Hunter (right), have touched down in Beijing, and are counting the days till they take part in the Olympic Games.

Andy Hunter Todd Cooper

Todd Cooper (25) is taking part in his second Olympics and will swim in the 100 metres butterfly after qualifying with a personal best time of 52.33 seconds in the Olympic Trials earlier this year.

He is studying for a postgraduate degree in Media Management and Law at Stirling University and after the Beijing experience he will be returning to his studies here.

His heat is on day six of the Olympics, 14 August, and if successful he then has a semi-final and the final on successive days.

Andy Hunter has just celebrated his 22nd birthday, and already has a Commonwealth Games silver medal to his credit. He will be in the 4 x 200 metres freestyle relay team, and is working hard to knock at least a second off his personal best to achieve the 1.47 mark that would put the team in with a realistic medal chance.

The relay team has its heat on day four, 12 August, with the final the next day if they get through.  The other members of the relay team are David Carry, Ross Davenport, Ben Hockin and Robert Renwick.

Andy is studying Accountancy and Business Studies at Stirling, and is taking part in the Olympics for the first time.

In Beijing, there will also be several other athletes with strong Stirling connections, including former sports scholars Andrew Lemoncello and Allan Scott. They were roommates while they studied at Stirling, and now find themselves in the GB athletics team. Andrew will compete in the 3000 metre steeplechase, having clinched his place with a lifetime best time of 8:22.95 as recently as 19 July, while Allan will run in the 110 metre hurdles.

Stlrling graduate Graham Moodie is a travelling reserve with the GB hockey team, and local resident Campbell Walsh competes in the K1 canoeing slalom, having had his first experiences of the sport on the loch that is the centrepiece of the Stirling campus.

Looking ahead to the Paralympics, which follow close on the heels of the Olympics, Stirling have disability swimmers Mhairi Love and Charlotte Henshaw travelling to Beijing with the Great Britain team.

The University of Stirling, in partnership with Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Institute of Sport, has long been at the forefront of high performance swimming and training. Todd and Andy are among over 50 sports scholars at the University, which was named as Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence by the Scottish Government earlier this year.

Stirling golfers selected for world event

Date released: Friday 8 August 2008

Three golfers who are sports scholars at the University of Stirling have been selected for Great Britain at the World University Golf Championships in South Africa next month.

Scott Borrowman, Paul Betty and David Booth have taken three of the four places in the GB men’s team which will compete at Sun City from 2 to 5 September.

Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University, will also travel as non-playing captain.

Other Stirling golfers are continuing to make a mark in the sport, with Gordon Yates now up to sixth in the Scottish Golf Union’s order of merit, one of four Stirling sports scholars in the top twenty. Yates recently reached the semi-final of the Scottish Amateur Golf Championship, and will be pushing hard for a place in the Scotland team for the forthcoming home international championship.

The University of Stirling currently offers golf scholarships to some of the country’s most talented young golfers, and previous scholars include Catriona Matthew and Richie Ramsay.

University to open against Hawick on Saturday

Date released: Monday 11 August 2008

The University of Stirling is set to welcome East of Scotland League football to the campus a week earlier than expected, with a home match against Hawick Royal Albert on Saturday 16 August after fixtures were rearranged.

Having stepped up to senior football this season, coinciding with a partnership with Falkirk FC that will see football scholars being recruited to the University, it promises to be a jubilee occasion on Saturday.

The students are looking forward to welcoming the Hawick team and the game at the University sports centre – just inside the campus entrance - starts at 2.30 pm and admission is free.

Raleigh Gowrie, the University’s sports performance manager, has appealed to all football fans to come and cheer the students on: “With Stirling Albion being away to Stranraer, I hope a good number of local football enthusiasts will come and see what we have to offer.  And if they like what they see, I would be very interested in speaking to anyone who would like to volunteer to be part of our match operations team.

Raleigh has coached the players through pre-season, but this week announced the appointment of Michael Jolley as first team coach.  “Michael has a UEFA A Licence, and has spent the last two years with the Nottingham Forest Academy, so he has an excellent pedigree and will be a great asset.  He will not only take the student team, he will also coach with Falkirk’s youth players, and is going to embark on a postgraduate MSc in sports coaching at the University.”

The University added another two scholarship students to the squad this week, with goalkeeper Thomas McCulloch from Lochgilphead taking up the offer of starting a degree in Physical Education this session, while Creag Robertson, who already has a three year sports scholarship in the USA under his belt, is going to take a postgraduate degree in sports management.

The University team’s debut at this level was frustrated on Saturday, the match at Ormiston being called off following torrential rain.

Postcript: final score Stirling University 11, Hawick Royal Albert 0.

The University published a souvenir match programme, free to all spectators. Contact the Media Relations Department on if you would like a copy.


British record for Olympic swimmers - but no medal

Date released: Wednesday 13 August 2008

Stirling swimmer Andy Hunter helped the Great Britain team set a new British record time in the Olympic Games today, for the second time in two days, but it was still not enough for the 4 x 200 metres freestyle foursome to win a medal.

Having qualified comfortably from the semi-finals yesterday, the freestyle team pulled out all the stops to smash the British record with a time of 7 minutes 5.92 seconds, which would have been enough to win gold at any previous Olympics.

Andy Hunter swam the second leg of the race in a personal best time of 1:46.72, and his colleagues David Carry, Ross Davenport and Robbie Renwick were also magnificent. But there was ferocious competition for the medal places, and at the finish less than a second separated Australia in third place, and Britain in sixth. The race was won by USA, who smashed the old world record and the seven minute barrier, to finish in 6:58.56, while Russia came second.

Andy (22) is studying Accountancy and Business Studies at Stirling, and is taking part in the Olympics for the first time.

The University's other Olympian swimmer, Todd Cooper (25) will swim in the 100 metres butterfly heat tomorrow, Thursday 14 August, with a scheduled start time of 8.09 pm (1.09 pm in the UK). If successful, he then has a semi-final and the final on successive days.


Better care needed for people with cancer in Scotland

Date released: Thursday 14 August 2008

Researchers at the University of Stirling have called on the NHS in Scotland to make radical changes to the way it supports people with cancer.

A new report from the Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) at the University of Stirling demonstrates that cancer care in Scotland could be significantly improved if cancer services focused on the overall experience of patients as well as their disease. With cancer survival rates in Scotland lagging behind comparable European countries, and 27,000 newly diagnosed cancer cases each year, it is evident that more needs to be done for patients, according to Nora Kearney, Professor of Cancer Care. 

Professor Kearney said: “We are still failing people with cancer in Scotland.  A new model for cancer care is required that addresses the whole experience of the patient and not just management of their disease. We have to treat the person as well as the disease.  This means that as well as making sure people in Scotland can have the best medical management for their cancer we must also provide support for the social and psychological issues that people with cancer have identified as being important to them.”

The three-year programme of research assessed the experiences of patients and their carers and found that, while much of the care provided to people with cancer in Scotland is good, problems and difficulties are also encountered. The CCRC report concludes that this is because services are directed towards management of disease, while wider issues important to patients, such as symptom management and emotional and psychological issues, are less well addressed. As a consequence, patients can experience a lack of a culture of caring, making patients feel disrespected and isolated.

The researchers’ new model for cancer care in Scotland calls for a shift from a purely disease-focused approach to one which also focuses on the experiences of patients and their carers. This is what two people affected by cancer had to say:

Peter, from Glasgow, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, says: “Everyone diagnosed with cancer wants the best possible treatment, but they also want and deserve the best possible care. They are not necessarily the same thing. Any research which tries to truly understand and improve the experience of people affected by cancer is to be very much welcomed and encouraged.”

Christine, from Stirling, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, says: "What these reports highlight for me is that being a cancer patient focuses the NHS on delivering a treatment and management package, with the objective of curing the disease. Speaking as a person with cancer, the report emphasises what the "elephant in the room" is: surviving is of primary importance, but the experience of this (good/bad or indifferent) is not being used to shape the delivery of service and the survivorship of the treatment further. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by including patient experiences at every level; treatment, management, and how we, as patients and survivors, can contribute to research.”

The results of the research raise a number of key issues for Government policy and guidance.

First, there remains much work to be done in implementing policy and guidance across Scotland so that all people affected by cancer consistently experience the benefit that this should provide.

Second, although policy and guidance rhetoric appears to be formally correct, it is failing because it is not grounded in, or driven by, patient experience.

Third, people affected by cancer in Scotland want a different approach to cancer care which takes account of their social, emotional and psychological experiences as well as the best treatments for their disease.

Professor Kearney concluded: “Although Scotland has made significant improvements in services for people with cancer over the past decade, it is evident from this research that, in relation to improving the experiences of people affected by cancer, more needs to be done. By not linking experiences and survival, sustained and optimal outcomes for people affected by cancer are unlikely to be achieved.”

The eight final reports from the three year programme of work are available on the CCRC website

The Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) was established in 2003 so that people affected by cancer could help shape the future of cancer services in Scotland.

For further information contact:

Cancer Care Research Centre

Unit 1, Scion House

University of Stirling

Stirling FK9 4NF

Tel: 01786 849260

Stirling given key Olympic training role

Date released: Tuesday 19 August 2008 National Swimming Academy

The University of Stirling’s role as the home of high performance sport in Scotland has been enhanced with its selection by British Swimming as an Intensive Training Centre.

The National Swimming Academy at Stirling, which is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, will be one of five Intensive Training Centres (ITC) to be established by British Swimming, as part of their aim to provide a world-class daily training environment for swimmer development.

With an initial four year contract, it ensures the University will play a key role in training and developing the nation’s top swimmers in the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

The award is a significant boost for Scottish sport as this is the first time that UK Sport, the national high performance sports agency, will fund a high performance centre for able-bodied athletes in Scotland. Stirling has already been host to a high performance centre for paralympic swimmers for the last five years, and will build on this experience to deliver a top quality service to talented swimmers.

Peter Bilsborough, Director of Sports Development at the University, said: “The University of Stirling is delighted to be one of British Swimming's centres for high performance swimming. The University, in partnership with Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Institute of Sport, has long been at the forefront of high performance swimming and training.

“This Intensive Training Centre will help the University and its partners build on all that has been achieved, providing the finest facilities and services to the country's most talented swimmers."

Open Doors on Cancer Care

Date released: Friday 22 August, 2008Professor Nora Kearney

The impact of cancer on everyday life can be shattering, so people affected by the disease will welcome an opportunity to share their experiences at Scotland’s leading cancer care research centre.

The Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) is holding its annual Open Day on Wednesday 3 September. It is a chance for everyone affected by cancer – including patients, carers, academics, researchers, health care professionals and policy makers - to meet and network with others.

The doors are open from 2-5 pm at the Centre’s base at Scion House on the University of Stirling campus and admission is free.

Professor Nora Kearney, Director of the CCRC (pictured), said: “We want to encourage people affected by cancer, and people working in cancer care, to learn from our work and join us in it. This is an informal opportunity to discover more about our work, including our plans for the future.

“When you visit the CCRC you can find out about our research into cancer as a long term condition, symptom improvement, families, children and relationships. We will explain how people affected by cancer advise our work - such as our three year study into patient and carer experiences of cancer in Scotland - and how you can become involved.”

A core part of the Open Day will be a forum at 3pm where people affected by cancer, who act as advisors to the research centre, will be available to answer questions about topics such as their personal experiences of cancer; the impact of NHS systems and structures on them as individuals and as patients; patient involvement in health policy and Government lobbying; and how to involve people who use the NHS in service development.

The work of the CCRC is summed up by Tom Haswell, a lung cancer patient from Glasgow, who says: “I am involved in many different aspects of cancer research as a patient representative. But I have found that the CCRC, more than other organisations, has a deep down interest and concern about the patient aspect. While people in other areas may say that they listen to patients and take it on board, I feel that the CCRC really does that. They are not just ticking the box – but actually act on what people affected by cancer tell them and take it further for the benefit of other patients.”

Tom is a member of the Stirling Patient Advisory Group, for the CCRC; he is also involved in national organisations such as the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and Scottish Regional Cancer Advisory Group.

Last year’s open day was a great success and the CCRC welcomed many visitors, old and new, to the Centre. Professor Kearney said: “It was the first time some of the visitors had come into contact with us and our work, and their response was fantastic, allowing people to meet with the researchers and people affected by cancer to learn about cancer research in Scotland.”

Further information:
Cancer Care Research Centre
Scion House
Innovation Park
University of Stirling
Tel: 01786 849260

Football Centre opens on Stirling campus

Date released: Monday 25 August 2008George Burley opens the football centre

George Burley, Scotland manager, today opened the Craig Gowans Football Centre, Falkirk FC’s new base at the University of Stirling.

The Football Centre was completed in the summer as a permanent base on campus for the Scottish Premier League side, which has had its first team training and youth academy at the University since 2005.

The two storey building provides an outstanding base for the players and management. On the ground floor is the first team changing room, a docking station for heart monitors, showers, baths and plunge pools, a fully-equipped physiotherapy area and the kit storage room. Upstairs there is a changing area, offices, meeting rooms and the players’ lounge, with a balcony overseeing the four grass and two synthetic pitches.

It was named the Craig Gowans Football Centre in recognition of Craig Gowans, who died on 8 July 2005 as a result of an accident at Little Kerse, the former training ground of Falkirk FC. Craig was educated at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College, Edinburgh and spent 12 months as a Bairn, having joined the club in July 2004 from Tynecastle Boys’ Club, Edinburgh.

Campbell Christie, chairman of Falkirk Football Club, said: “This building symbolizes the permanent partnership between Falkirk FC and the University of Stirling.  It is the final piece in the jigsaw to create a first class performance environment for the club.  I would like to thank Sandy Alexander, whose financial contribution made the project possible, and the staff at the University who have worked so hard to bring it to fruition.  I would also like to pay tribute to the family of Craig Gowans, who are here today to see their son being remembered.

Professor Christine Hallett, Principal of the University, said: “It has been an outstanding year for sport at the University on many fronts and it is fitting that Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence is supporting Scotland’s national sport. Football has joined swimming, golf, tennis and triathlon as a scholarship sport at Stirling, and this Football Centre is the latest example of the University’s commitment to the development of football in general and Falkirk Football Club in particular.  I am sure there will be benefits on all sides, and already the University’s partnership with Falkirk has generated mutual benefits and it is our intention to do even more in years to come.”

John Hughes, Falkirk manager, said: “This makes the players even more proud to be associated with the club. It is an excellent building containing all we could want and somewhere we can call our own. It is also an added incentive for potential new signings: if they come to Stirling and see what we have then they immediately know they would be coming to somewhere very special."


Stirling is joint organiser of international suicide conference

Date released: Tuesday 26 August 2008Stephen Platt and Rory O'Connor

Manchester has the highest rate of self harm in Europe, a leading conference on suicide will be told this week. The study, which compared hospital admissions for self harm from eight European countries, also found that females are consistently at greater risk of harming themselves than males.

The findings will be presented at the 12th European Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour, organised jointly by the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling. The conference will be opened tomorrow (Wednesday) and run until 30 August. With over 550 experts from around the world, it will be the largest conference ever to be held on suicide in the UK.

Researchers from the Network for International Collaboration on Evidence in Suicide Prevention collected data on over 44,000 cases of self harm across Europe dating from 1989 to 2003.

In the regions studied, researchers found the highest rate was in Manchester where, on average, 540 out of every 100,000 women self harmed each year. Next came Oxford with 416 per 100,000. This compares to 72 per 100,000 women in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which had the lowest rate. The corresponding figures for males were 422 per 100,000 in Manchester, 309 per 100,000 in Oxford and 64 per 100,000 in Ljubljana. In most countries, men were also at greater risk of self harming repeatedly.

The findings back up previous research that suggests the UK has very high rates of self harm compared to other European countries.

Professor Stephen Platt, Director of the Research Unit in Health, Behaviour and Change at the University of Edinburgh, is co-president of the event. He said: “This latest research confirms we have a serious problem of self harm in the UK, particularly among women. Although we have made excellent progress in improving support services, we still have a long way to go. Conferences such as this provide an opportunity to share our understanding of suicidal behaviour and to develop better care.”

Professor Rory O’Connor, who heads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Group at the University of Stirling and is also co-president of the symposium, said: “It is a great honour to be hosting the largest and most prestigious suicide prevention conference in Europe. The symposium aims to improve our understanding and prevention of suicide and self harm. It highlights that Scotland is leading the way in suicide research and prevention."

The ESSSB12 is organised in partnership with the Suicide Information Research and Evidence Network (SIREN) and supported by the Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland.

Pictured: Professor Stephen Platt (left) and Professor Rory O'Connor

Stirling hosts world dementia event

Date released: Thursday 28 August 2008June Andrews

Dementia experts from around the world are coming to Stirling next week for a major international conference that will focus on ways to improve care for people with dementia.

The conference, hosted by the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling from 1-3 September, has 350 delegates who will hear from over 70 speakers and attend 20 symposia, to exchange ideas, research and inspiration.

Professor June Andrews, Director of the DSDC (pictured), said: “Dementia is one of the biggest  healthcare issues facing us today, with more spent on it in the UK than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together.  

“To develop effective strategies to support the growing numbers of people with dementia, it is vitally important to share the latest thinking and research. The biggest challenges are educating people about coping with dementia and early diagnosis of the condition.”

There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, 65,000 of them in Scotland, with numbers potentially set to double in the next 30 years.

The conference explores the theme ‘Innovation & Excellence: Making Change Happen’ and is aimed at all those who support people with dementia, whether their background is in medicine, social care, planning or service provision and will be of interest to those from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as community representatives such as faith leaders.

The conference will be addressed by Scotland’s Health Minister, Shona Robison, who also chairs the Dementia Forum, and as well as the specialists expected to attend from countries including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malta, France and Netherlands, people with dementia and their carers are also welcomed.

For further information, contact:

The DSDC at the University of Stirling develops services for people with dementia and their carers. Its principal aim is to disseminate research and good practice about home and hospital care for people with any type of dementia. It provides training and information for nurses, people working in nursing homes, home care workers, psychiatrists of old age, social workers, police officers and those working in the voluntary sector.

The dog who gets a buzz out of bees

Date released: Friday 29 August 2008Toby the spaniel

This is Toby, a springer spaniel who has been trained as a secret weapon in the war against environmental change. He uses his nose in a very unusual way, to sniff out bumblebees.

Toby is going to be featured on the BBC's national television programme, the One Show, on Monday 1 September at 7 pm.

University of Stirling researchers have been awarded a grant worth £111,956 from the Leverhulme Trust to discover more about the world of bumblebees with the help of the specially trained sniffer dog.

The three year project is being undertaken by Professor Dave Goulson and Dr Kirsty Park, of Stirling’s School of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Prof Goulson explained: “Bumblebees are very important to the environment as pollinators of crops and flowers, but sadly they are struggling to survive in the modern world of habitat loss, pesticides and intensive agriculture.

“Further declines in bumblebees could result in a downward cycle of poorer harvests and sweeping changes to the countryside, as wild flowers set less seed and disappear, which in turn could have catastrophic effects for other wildlife.”

Dr Park added: “To study bumblebees, first we need to find them, and as their nests are often well hidden underground, dogs with their sensitive noses are wonderful allies in sniffing out locations.  The training was carried out by the army dog-training school in Melton Mowbray, and now Toby can come with us into the Scottish countryside to track down nests for us to study.”

Toby’s handler is Steph O’Connor, a postgraduate research student who is specialising in the ecology of bees, and she will demonstrate how the spaniel searches for a bees’ nest. Steph says: “To conserve dwindling bee populations we need to find out what are the main causes of mortality of bumblebee nests – hard to do unless you can find the nests! With Toby we can track down the nests of both common and rare species and follow them over time to see how they fare. Toby is just the bee’s knees!”

Steph and Toby are sponsored by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity set up in 2006 to halt declines in our bumblebees. To find out more about the trust, and Toby, visit


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