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News archive for January 2010

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Stirling hosts British Tour tennis event

Freezing weather could kill wild bees

Super healthy day planned at University of Stirling

Stirling University gets Big Lottery funding to help local carers

Economics challenges for a new UK government

Tennis scholar Joe has a smashing time at University

Titles in Tollcross for student swimmers

Media course launched in Vietnam

Industry documents reveal the truth about alcohol advertising

Chimpcam Project to be given television premiere

Stirling campus to test Britain’s best student cross country runners

Study reveals prevalence of self-harm in Northern Irish teenagers

Unearthing corruption in sport: journalist banned by FIFA bites back in talk at the University of Stirling

Stirling hosts British Tour tennis event

Date released: Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tennis fans should head to the University of Stirling next week for a major British Tour event featuring the best young British players.

Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence will host the six-day AEGON British Tour event on campus for the first time in its history.

The competition, organised by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), starts on Monday (January 11), giving up-and-coming players the perfect opportunity to gain experience in their quest to become professional players.

And the event – with free entry for spectators – includes 10 Stirling students. Hannah Pickford joins first year sports scholar Aimee Black in the 26 player women’s draw while the 48 player men’s draw includes tennis scholars Joe Gill, David Horton, James Ickringill, Callum Lloyd, Cameron Malik, Jordan McCulloch, James Saker and Sean Smith.

Gill, a fourth year Sport and Politics student, will be keen to continue his form into 2010, the 21-year-old having reached the final of the Scottish Grand Prix last November.

Stirling tennis scholar Callum LloydHis Stirling team-mate Lloyd, pictured left,is ready to get back into playing action after an injury setback. Lloyd is an England Senior International, as is Sports Studies student McCulloch.

Stirling - the only Scottish venue on the tour - plays host to the second of 30 AEGON British Tour events, with the action starting this week in Billesley. The revamped tour finishes in December in Nottingham, where the top players on the leaderboard will compete in a Masters event.

This year, the tour includes an increase in prize money, with the men’s singles winner receiving a cheque for £750. Qualifiers begin on Monday with the finals set for Saturday.

Euan McGinn, University of Stirling High Performance Tennis Coach, said: “The quality of facilities and the courts here make Stirling a great place to host events and hopefully plenty of tennis fans will come along to watch the action and cheer on our students. For them, it is an excellent opportunity to compete against the top domestic players.”

AEGON British Tour Director Richard Joyner said: "We are delighted that the AEGON British Tour is coming to Scotland. The tour has been enhanced for 2010, with an increase in the number of events and prize money. It is integral in providing good quality competition for the 16+ age group, and it is great to see a number of Stirling students will be in action next week."


• To view the entry list for the AEGON British Tour event at Stirling, visit: Matches start daily from 9.30am.
• Directions to the University of Stirling campus and the Gannochy National Tennis Centre are available at:


Freezing weather could kill wild bees

Date released: Friday, 8 January 2010

Bumbleebee in the snow, photo by Bob White

An ecologist based at the University of Stirling has warned that the exceptionally cold weather could prove disastrous for Britain's bee population, leading to a pollination crisis next summer.

With no let-up in the freezing weather and temperatures in some parts of the UK falling to -20 degrees C, Dr Ben Darvill, Director of the Bumbleebee Conservation Trust, explained that wild bumblebees hibernating under the ground could freeze to death.

Whilst domesticated honeybees survive the winter in hives which are looked after by beekeepers, the UK also has 24 species of wild bumblebee which do not overwinter as a colony. Instead, just the queen bee hibernates underground until the warmth of spring wakes her. Such a prolonged cold spell may threaten to kill these hibernating queens, so bee numbers next summer could be very low.

Dr Darvill said: “A fertilised queen bumblebee is all that survives from one year to the next, so hibernation survival is absolutely crucial. A mass die-off in winter would have massive consequences for bee numbers in the following summer. Yet very little is known about hibernation – it’s all hidden underground. We suspect that they tunnel deeply enough to avoid being frozen, but in a winter like this the ground may freeze more deeply than usual.”

Low bee numbers would do more than quieten the buzz in our summer gardens. Between them, honeybees and bumblebees pollinate the vast majority of the UK’s flowering crops and wild flowers – a service worth millions of pounds to the economy. Diseases have already hit honeybees hard, and wild bumblebees are struggling too. They should be our free insurance strategy but sadly there are no longer enough wild flowers in most farmland areas to support healthy populations. Two bumblebee species have become extinct in the last 70 years and six more give serious cause for concern. The current near-arctic conditions sweeping the UK could make matters worse.

However, it is not yet certain that bumblebees will be badly affected, as Dr. Darvill explained: “There are bumblebee species which live right up in the Arctic Circle, so freezing conditions do not necessarily kill off hibernating queens. However, we are concerned that the UK’s bumblebees are not so well adapted to such cold conditions – they may not be hibernating deeply enough underground, for example. Although the layer of snow actually insulates the ground to begin with, the soil in many areas is now frozen. At a time when the nation’s favourite pollinators are already struggling, they could do without this additional challenge. We sincerely hope that enough bees survive the winter to avoid a pollination crisis in 2010. The colour on our dinner plates and the future of our wild flowers depends on it.”

His advice to gardeners, to ensure that queen bees emerging in spring have the best possible chance of starting a new colony, is to make sure that your garden if full of their favourite flowers.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust champions the cause of bumblebees, supporting the development of sustainable agricultural policies and conservation work to counter the dramatic declines in their populations in recent years. For more information on how you can help to improve the ‘plight of the bumblebee’, visit or phone BBCT on 01786 467818.

For more information/photographs, please contact:

Ben Darvill, Director, Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Tel: 01786 467819.

Super healthy day planned at University of Stirling

Date released: Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The recent cold spell has left everyone feeling frozen but a super activity afternoon at the University of Stirling is guaranteed to further the thawing process.

SUPERS – which stands for Stirling University Physical Education and Recreation for Seniors – has organised a free Young at Heart afternoon on Monday 25 January.

For the past 20 years, they have been organising activities for people aged 50+, arranging a variety of exercise and sport classes with plenty of banter to boot. And later this month, the University’s Sports Development Service will host the afternoon’s action, which starts at 1.30pm with a tour of the campus sports facilities.

After the tour, there is an instructor-led Exercise to Music class focusing on aerobic fitness, muscle strength, co-ordination and flexibility. A quick coffee stop later at Clives in the Sports Centre and there is a choice of activities from Pilates and Stretch and Tone to Brazilian Samba, Tennis and Swimming.

Open to all, it is an ideal opportunity to find out more about the activities run by SUPERS and make a start on those healthy New Year’s resolutions. With ample parking in the University grounds and excellent bus links to and from Stirling city centre, even the snowy conditions can’t stop the SUPERS.

For more information, contact Kerry MacPhee at the Sports Centre on 01786 466908 or email To view the Young at Heart classes, see:

Stirling University gets Big Lottery funding to help local carers

Date released: Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A thousand older carers in the Lothians who look after people with dementia will soon have their lives improved, thanks to a University of Stirling initiative. The Dementia Services Development Centre within the University has today received an award of £306,876. The money will go to train health and social care professionals, enabling them to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to meet the practical and emotional needs of dementia carers. 

This initiative is one of five projects which have been chosen to share just over £1 million from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). The money will be used to support Scotland’s unsung army of carers – including those over 50, those new to caring and those looking after someone who has Alzheimers or who has had a stroke.

Professor Christine Hallett, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University said: “This award will enable us to devise and deliver education – free of charge – for more than a hundred health and social care workers.

“Caring for someone with dementia is a difficult and stressful task for anyone, but thousands of Scots do it willingly. There are three particularly difficult times - when the diagnosis is made, the time when the person may have to go into a home, and the end of life. It is crucial to provide the best possible support for carers at these times, but most health and social care staff have not been trained in how to handle those transitions. With this award, we can help them to do so.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC)is internationally recognised as a centre for excellence in coordinating dementia projects. The centre actively works to improve services for people with dementia, working with local authorities, the voluntary sector, emergency services and government organisations to provide unrivalled education and training in dementia.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004.



Economics challenges for a new UK government

Date released: Friday 15 January 2010

Professor David Blanchflower

One of Britain’s leading economists is coming to Inverness to provide a pre-General Election insight into the economic challenges facing a new government. He has argued consistently that economics is at the heart of understanding health and well-being.

Professor David Blanchflower CBE is guest speaker at the first of two high profile business seminars hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), in partnership with the University of Stirling, at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness.

Professor Blanchflower was until recently a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. He is Professor within the Stirling Management School, part of the University of Stirling, as well as being a regular columnist in the Guardian and New Statesman. His lecture, "The Economic Challenges for a New Government" is being held on Friday 5 February 2010 at 4.00 pm. This is a free event open to all of the Highlands and Islands business community.

Ruaraidh MacNeil, Operations Manager for HIE's Inner Moray Firth team said: "This lecture series aims to provide attendees with the most up to date views on the current economic situation and what this may mean for their business after the General Election this year. Having a speaker as prestigious as Professor Blanchflower provides an exciting opportunity for businesses across the Highlands and Islands and this should not be missed."

Professor Grant Jarvie, Deputy Principal, University of Stirling added "The University of Stirling is delighted to work in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise given the common interest and expertise of assisting economic development in the Highlands and Islands"

Gillian Galloway, Project Director at the Centre for Health Science said: “We are delighted that HIE and the University of Stirling are hosting these lectures in the Centre for Health Science and are looking forward to welcoming Professor Blanchflower and the Highlands and Islands business community.”


Tennis scholar Joe has a smashing time at University

Date released: Tuesday 19 January 2010

A University of Stirling tennis scholar went a step further to earning some world ranking points with a great victory on home soil.

Joe Gill, from Sheffield upset the odds to win the AEGON British Tour – his first tour event win in his career - at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre.

Gill, a fourth year Sport and Politics student, defeated number two seed Ian Samuels to take the second of the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) 2010 British Tour events. Surrey player Samuels boasts a 1.2 rating, just 0.1 off the highest rank available for domestic players, but Gill was in uncompromising mood, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Victory brought with it a cheque for £400, but more importantly for Gill, who also won a first round qualifier at the ITF Futures Tour event at Scotstoun in the same week, another sign he is on course to his 2010 target of some world ranking points.

Tennis scholar Joe Gill

“It’s definitely another step in the right direction,” said Gill, rated 3.1, whose win moves him into the top 50. “I have proved to myself I can win this type of tournament, beating a guy who has plenty of experience and has been winning these tournaments for a long time.

“The next move is to try and get into the main draw at a Futures event. I won a qualifier, but you need to win three matches to make the draw and four to pick up world ranking points. It will be tough, but with the tournament win under my belt, I am a lot more confident. At the start of the year, my coach Euan [McGinn] said I needed to develop a more attacking game and he has worked hard with me on it so the win is credit to him too.”

The 21-year-old only lost one set in his four wins, defeating Chris Anguelov 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-final and claiming the scalps of his fellow University sports scholars James Saker (6-0, 6-0) and Jordan McCulloch (7-6, 6-4). Gill is now two wins to one up on McCulloch, having also beaten him on his way to the Scottish Grand Prix final in November.

And he believes the on-court rivalry with his Stirling team-mates is all healthy. Gill added: “Games against Jordan [McCulloch] have become like needle matches as it can determine who is picked as the top University player. We don’t speak to one another when we are on court, but it’s a friendly rivalry and we bring out the best in one another.”

Several of the Stirling scholars had good performances, such as James Ickringill who reached the quarter finals. Others competing were: Hannah Pickford, Aimee Black, David Horton, Callum Lloyd, Cameron Malik and Sean Smith.

University of Stirling High Performance Tennis Coach Euan McGinn said: “For our scholars to have done so well lets them know they can compete at that level which gives them a focus in training. It is a big individual win for Joe who has improved a lot over the last six months. He has put a lot of work in and been getting the results which will give him the confidence going into a busy calendar of events. It is brilliant to be able to host that level of tournament and we are very keen to increase the number of events here at Stirling.”

AEGON British Tour Tournament Director Richard Joyner said: “It was great to see the AEGON British Tour in Scotland, with a good showing from Stirling students. It was very appropriate that Stirling student Joe Gill won the first tour event of his career on his home courts. As well as the accolade and prize money, his victory entitles him to a wild card at an AEGON Pro-Series Qualifying event during 2010, a well deserved achievement.”

In other tennis news, first year Sports Studies student Gordon Reid collected the men’s wheelchair doubles title at the Adelaide Wheelchair Tennis Open in Victoria, Australia. The British No.1 teamed up with fellow Brit Marc McCarroll and the top seeds clinched their second ITF 3 Series men’s doubles title in successive weeks, having won the Queensland Open in Brisbane. In both matches they played Australia’s Michael Dobbie and Ben Weekes, this time winning 6-2, 6-3.


Titles in Tollcross for student swimmers

Date released: Tuesday 19 January 2010

University of Stirling students started a big year of competitive swimming in style with a glut of medals at the British Gas Scottish Short Course Championships.

Scholars from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence won no fewer than 31 medals – including 10 golds – over the weekend at Tollcross Park Leisure Centre in Glasgow.

Top University performer was Sports Studies student Lewis Smith, representing Warrender Baths Club, who managed a title a day, taking the 100m, 200m and 400m Individual Medley (IM).

Lewis SmithSmith, part of the British Gas Intensive Training Centre (ITC) based at the University pool, also took silver in the 200m backstroke and 200m butterfly and bronze in the 400m freestyle.

The tally across a number of strokes were all the more impressive considering Smith was adjusting to racing life without the performance enhancing non-textile swimsuits which were banned from 1 January by swimming governing body Fina.

He said: “The times are not great, but that doesn’t matter just now when you consider I am in a heavy block of training and racing without the suit. I didn’t go into the meet expecting any special performance, but I took it on myself to enter as many races, more as a training exercise to adjust.

“It affects your stroke and your technique considerably and it was important to get back to remembering how it feels racing in shorts. The competition was fairly strong and I am definitely happy with how it went.

“It is a big year for Scottish swimmers, you only get the chance every four years to race an international event for Scotland and I didn’t go to the last Commonwealth Games so this one is really important. This was the first little test and there are plenty more to come.”

The 21-year-old was impressed with the results of his fellow sports scholars, particularly the first year students who have shown little time in settling into their new surroundings. BSc Sport and Exercise Science fresher Ryan Bennett took gold in the 50m backstroke and silver in both the 100m butterfly and freestyle.

And there were also medals for first year students: Eloise Barber (Gold 100m IM, Silver 200m IM, Bronze 200mDouglas Scott freestyle), Josh Walsh (Gold 200m freestyle, Silver 400m freestyle), Jak Scott (Silver 50m freestyle, Bronze 100m freestyle), Douglas Scott (Gold 50m breaststroke, Silver 100m breaststroke) and Ross Muir (Silver 400m IM, Bronze 200m IM and 400m freestyle B).

“It is great to have new talent here,” added Smith. “The new guys are strong swimmers and they have all improved since they came. It is more competition, but you want people to race against in training and it makes you push yourself harder. Stirling is already a big name in swimming and hopefully the influx of new students will make it an even bigger one.”

Ireland’s Clare Dawson, a Psychology student, won the 50m freestyle, pipping her training partner Lucy Ellis in the process. Dawson also earned a silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze at 100m freestyle. Ellis, 16, who studies at Forth Valley College, added to her silver with the 100m freestyle title and bronze at 100m butterfly.

Smith’s ITC training partners Andrew Hunter and Jonathan Greig were also in action. Hunter, a 4th year Accounts and Business Studies student, earned a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly on the opening day and Psychology student Jonathan Greig picked up gold in the 200m butterfly ‘B’ final and bronze in the 200m freestyle ‘B’ final. Stuart Greig, part of the Stirling Performance Squad, earned a silver in the 50m freestyle ‘B’ final.



Media course launched in Vietnam

Date released: Wednesday 20 January 2010

University Principal and colleagues at media course launch in Vittnam

The University of Stirling has launched a Masters course in Media Communications Management in Vietnam, which will support the country’s rapidly expanding media sector.

Created by the Department of Film, Media & Journalism, the Ho Chi Minh Masters programme will be run in partnership with Vietnam National University and its affiliate, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH).

Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City is the larger of Vietnam’s two national universities, with five member universities and a number of research and education centres. USSH, one of its member universities, is one of the two largest tertiary institutions in the field of social sciences in Vietnam, with 40,000 domestic and international students and 800 staff.

University of Stirling Principal Professor Christine Hallett was present at the launch event this week (pictured), where she paid tribute to Vietnam's investment in education:  “Vietnam has the second youngest population in the world and its investment in education is among the largest of the ASEAN - Association of Southeast Asian Nations -group of countries. The new MSc in Media Communications Management will provide important support to Vietnam's rapidly expanding media industries and demonstrates Stirling's commitment to deliver high quality education abroad.”

The launch was also attended by University of Stirling co-directors of the course, Dr Matthew Hibberd and Dr An Nguyen, both of whom are currently recipients of a Prime Minister’s Education Initiative (PMI2) grant, for delivering postgraduate courses at the University of Economics,Danang, Vietnam. 

Speaking of the grant, Dr Hibberd said: “The British Council's support has been fundamental in allowing us to develop educational initiatives in Vietnam. In-country delivery of postgraduate programmes will become more important in future years, and the Department of Film, Media and Journalism is delighted to bring postgraduate media and communications education to Vietnam.”

For Dr An Nyguyen this was also a return visit to his Alma Mater; he completed his first degree in English and Linguistics at USSH, prior to becoming a journalist and academic.


Industry documents reveal the truth about alcohol advertising

Date released: Thursday, 21 January 2010Professor Gerard Hastings

Although the content of alcohol advertisements in the UK is restricted, an analysis of previously unseen industry documents published on today, finds that advertisers are still managing to appeal to young people and promote drinking.

Professor Gerard Hastings OBE, Professor of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling (pictured), and colleagues show that companies are “pushing the boundaries” of the advertising code of practice and warn that the UK system of self regulatory controls for alcohol advertising is failing.

Hastings and his team analysed a sample of internal marketing documents from four alcohol producers and their communications agencies. The documents were made available as part of the House of Commons Health Committee alcohol inquiry and included client briefs, media schedules, advertising budgets, and market research reports.

The alcohol industry spends around £800m (€900m; $1.3bn) a year promoting alcohol in the UK.

The authors looked at four themes that are banned by the advertising code of practice, such as appealing to people under 18 and encouraging irresponsible drinking, as well as sponsorship and new media.

They found that market research data on 15 and 16 year olds is used to guide campaign development and deployment, while many references are made to the need to recruit new drinkers and establish their loyalty to a particular brand. WKD, for instance, wants to attract “new 18 year olds” and Carling takes a particular interest in the fact that the Carling Weekend is “the first choice for the festival virgin.”

Despite a ban on encouraging drunkenness and excess, the authors also found many references to unwise and immoderate drinking, suggesting that increasing consumption is a key promotional aim.

Other documents suggest that brands can promote social success, masculinity or femininity, despite this also being banned under advertising codes. For example, Carling is described as a “social glue” by its promotion team, while the need to “communicate maleness and personality” is noted as a key communications objective for WKD.

Although the codes prohibit any link between alcohol and youth culture or sporting achievement in advertising, the documents discuss in detail sponsorship deals with football, lads’ magazines, and music festivals. The use of new media, including social networking sites, is also a fast growing channel for alcohol advertising, say the authors.

Hastings and his team argue that the UK needs to tighten both the procedures and scope of the regulation of alcohol advertising.

They suggest that regulation should be independent of the alcohol and advertising industries and that all alcohol advertisements should be pre-vetted. And they call for sponsorship to be covered by the regulations, and much greater scrutiny for digital media. Particular efforts should also be made to protect children from alcohol advertising, they say, such as banning billboards and posters near schools and restricting TV, radio and cinema advertisements.

They believe that the current problems with UK alcohol promotion are reminiscent of those seen before tobacco advertising was banned, “when attempts to control content and adjust targeting simply resulted in more cryptic and imaginative campaigns.

”History suggests that alcohol advertisers are, appropriately enough, drinking in the last chance saloon,” they conclude.

In an accompanying editorial, Trish Groves, BMJ deputy editor calls for a clamp down on alcohol promotion and a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol to prevent the rise of alcohol related ill health in the UK.

She points out that the government is spending £17.6m on alcohol education and information in 2009-10, but this is dwarfed by the UK drinks industry’s£600-800m annual spend on promoting alcohol.

"It is time to put away the rhetoric, popular with the drinks industry, that alcohol misuse is largely an individual problem best avoided and managed through education, counselling, and medical treatment," she writes. "Instead, the UK needs to embrace the idea that the health and societal costs of alcohol misuse are best prevented through legislation on pricing and marketing."

But it's not just the money that keeps the industry a step ahead. A linked article explains how the alcohol industry and trade organisations such as the Portman Group are well placed in UK policy circles to defend their position, and asks, is the government under the influence of the drinks industry?

Professor Gerard Hastings, Director, Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1786 467 390 

Click here to email

Click here to view the full paper:


Chimpcam Project to be given television premiere

Date released: Friday, 22 January 2010

Betsy Herrelko

A television documentary to be shown on Wednesday (27 January) follows behavioural scientist Betsy Herrelko (pictured) of the University of Stirling as she observes chimpanzees at Edinburgh Zoo.

Betsy and the chimpanzees are set to become stars of the screen when they are featured in a BBC Natural World documentary.

The 11 chimps have been taking part in a study called The Chimpcam Project for the last 18 months. In this joint collaboration between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the University of Stirling and Burning Gold Productions, the chimps experience video streaming for the first time, learn how to use touch-screen technology and are even given a chimp-proof camera to shoot their own footage.

The documentary explores the extent to which the chimps are aware of what they are seeing and filming and, for the first time, we are able to see the world through a chimp’s eyes.

Betsy Herrelko explained how the chimps react to this new experience: “The Chimpcam Project was designed to let the chimps take us on a tour of their minds. We created studies and activities, but what happened after that was completely up to the chimps. We were along for the ride, hoping to learn a bit more about how they viewed the world. Being able to view life as the chimps see it is something that I will never forget.

“I couldn’t imagine a better combination of people to work on this project. It’s been a fantastic experience collaborating with all three institutions.”

Betsy is undertaking a PhD in the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Dr Sarah-Jane Vick and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith. Originally from Ohio, she came to Stirling in 2008 after conducting research with the Gorilla Foundation in California.

Betsy is part of the Behaviour and Evolution Research Group at Stirling. This group looks at the study of animal behaviour with a particular emphasis on primate behaviour. Research within the group covers a wide range of areas including: behaviour, cognition, conservation, ecology and welfare. Species studied include chimpanzees, baboons, macaques, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, marmosets and tamarins. Research is conducted through collaborative links with research institutes and zoos in Europe and the USA and sites in Africa, South America and Asia.

The Chimpcam Project website:

Natural World – The Chimpcam Project will be shown on Wednesday 27 January, 8pm-9pm on BBC 2. The programme can also be watched online at the link below (after the broadcast):

For further detail, please see Betsy’s web page at

Stirling campus to test Britain’s best student cross country runners

Date released: Monday, 25 January 2010

One thousand student athletes are expected to head for Stirling next month for the first event of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) athletics season.

The BUCS Cross Country Championships, hosted by the University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for SportingA birds-eye view of the University campus Excellence, will take place around the Stirling campus on Saturday 6 February and is set to play host to a raft of British talent.

Defending champions and St Mary’s University College students, Andy Vernon and Steph Twell will both be running to retain their titles as well as to win points for the men’s and women’s team competition.

The women’s competition will be a closely fought race as Olympian Twell lines up with fellow GB athletes Emily Pidgeon (Loughborough), Stevie Stockton (Loughborough), Charlotte Purdue (St Mary’s) and Lauren Howarth (Birmingham).

The University of Birmingham will be hoping to regain the men’s team title it last won in 2007 with the help of Nick Goolab and James Wilkinson, who recently returned from the Junior European Cross Country Championships in December with silver and bronze medals respectively.

Other competitors to watch out for include current World Triathlon Champion, Alistair Brownlee of Leeds Met Carnegie and fellow Carnegie triathlete Lois Rosindale, who already has the BUCS Hill Climb Cycling Championship title under her belt.

Karen Rothery, Chief Executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) said: “The competition looks fierce at this year’s university cross country event and I’m pleased to see a high number of athletes using the competition as key event in their training programmes. With the support of the University of Stirling, I expect we will see some great races from our elite British athletes.”

Jamie MacDonald, University of Stirling Sports Union President, said: “We are delighted to once again host the BUCS Cross Country Championships, a major event in the student sporting calendar. It’s great to see so many talented athletes will be coming to the University of Stirling and I’m sure they will enjoy testing themselves on a challenging course around our scenic campus.”

For the first time athletes will benefit from a chip timing system, provided by Interloq’s Winning Time System. Lucozade Sport will also be on hand at the event to give sports nutrition advice to competitors.

There are three races: Men’s Long Race 11.1km, Women’s Long Race 6.4km and the Men’s B Race 7.9km, starting at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm respectively. The starting line is at the Airthrey Golf Pavilion with parking available a short walk away at the Halls of Residence.

Background information:

* The BUCS Cross Country Championships take place on Saturday 6 February 2010 at Gannochy Sports Centre, University of Stirling. The event is the first in the BUCS Athletics calendar with Indoor Athletics following on 13–14 March at The BUCS Championships in Sheffield. More about the athletics season available from

* British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national organisation for higher sport in the UK. It represents 150 universities and colleges and manages the development and competition programme for 50 sports. For more information visit or join our facebook page at

* For any media inquiries, contact Jenni Anderson (BUCS) on 020 7633 5088 or email:

* Directions to the University of Stirling campus are available at: Getting Here

Study reveals prevalence of self-harm in Northern Irish teenagers

Date released: Tuesday, 26 January 2010

New research shows 10% of teenagers in Northern Ireland have self-harmed - and a further 13% have thought seriously about doing so in the past year. Conducted by the University of Stirling (Professor Rory O'Connor) in collaboration with the University of Oxford (Professor Keith Hawton) and University of Strathclyde (Dr Susan Rasmussen), the research involved putting questions to over three and a half thousand secondary school students and is the largest study of its kind to examine the prevalence of adolescent self-harm in Northern Ireland.

Funded by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the research, is presented for the first time today at the 'Working Together to Address Suicide and Self-harm' Conference in Derry. It shows that girls are at least three times more likely to report self-harm than boys.

Professor Rory O'Connor of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Group at the University of Stirling, who led the research, said: "Although it is not possible to determine what causes young people to self-harm from this study, a number of factors were associated with it. Drug and alcohol use, bullying, infrequent exercise, concerns about sexual orientation, sexual abuse, self-harm by family and friends, impulsivity, anxiety and low levels of self-esteem were associated with lifetime self-harm."

"When we looked at all the risk factors together The Troubles did not emerge as a key influence. However when we looked at the questions about The Troubles on their own, we found that those adolescents who had direct experience of The Troubles were more likely to report self-harm."

"The young people reported many different motives for their self-harm, including getting relief from a terrible state of mind and wanting to punish themselves. In addition, half of the respondents said that they had seriously wanted to kill themselves."

"Although adolescent self-harm appears to be lower in Northern Ireland than it is in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and England, there is no room to be complacent, 1 in 10 of Northern Irish adolescents is affected. Self-harm is a major public health issue which requires continued attention, as we know from the self-harm register that the rates of hospital-treated self-harm among adults are worryingly high. These findings suggest an important role for schools in adolescent wellbeing, the management of life stresses and the promotion of self-esteem."

Colm Donaghy, Chair of the Northern Ireland Regional Suicide Implementation Body, welcomed the research. He said: "This type of research is very important and helps us to develop and plan services according to the needs of the population. The recently published two year report of the Registry of Deliberate Self harm - which operates at Erne, Omagh and Altnagelvin Accident and Emergency Departments - shows that there are over 1,300 presentations due to deliberate self harm annually at these sites. It is clearly a major concern for our society and the more we understand about this issue, the better informed our efforts will be to address the problem".

Commenting on the new research presented to the conference, Colm Donaghy said: "Professor O'Connor's findings are timely and helpful. This research will allow us to work together and plan how we deal with this issue in relation to children and young people".

A total of 3,596 pupils aged 15-16, from secondary and grammar schools across Northern Ireland, completed an anonymous questionnaire. Self-harm was recorded if they answered 'yes' to the question: "Have you ever deliberately taken an overdose (e.g. pills or other medication) or tried to harm yourself in some other way (such as cut yourself)?"

The conference 'Working Together to Address Self Harm and Suicide' commences at 9.15 am on Tuesday 26 January 2010, the Waterfoot Hotel, Londonderry.

For more information, please contact Professor Rory O'Connor, University of Stirling. Tel: 01786 467673 Email:


Unearthing corruption in sport: journalist banned by FIFA bites back in talk at the University of Stirling

Date released: Thursday, 28 January 2010

A leading investigative journalist who specialises in exposing corruption in sport reckons ‘you can’t believe what you read in the papers’.

Andrew Jennings, author of controversial books on the Olympic Games (The Lords of the Rings) and FIFA (Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-rigging and Ticket Scandals) was speaking ahead of a talk he will deliver at the University of Stirling on Thursday, 18 February.

Jennings, who has spent more than 40 years in journalism, feels the opportunity to get to the truth of many sporting scandals is being missed. “There is no doubt the public want to hear about it as the response I get after any documentary or book is very warming,” he said.

The journalist, who was infamously banned by FIFA President Sepp Blatter from his press conferences, added: “We, as journalists, are supposed to work for the public and I can remember when the tabloids didn’t fill their pages with two-bit celebrities, but with turning over crime and exposing corruption.

“I did a programme about FIFA which had three million viewers, yet there was hardly a whisper in the newspapers. Their sports departments are like an articulated lorry being towed behind the main body of the paper. It’s now left solely up to programmes like Panorama to expose corruption.”

Jennings will be speaking at the University of Stirling at 6pm on 18 February as part of the 2009/10 Research Seminars and Lectures in Sport series. The free series, has already hosted a public debate on the future of Scottish football featuring SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and explored Why England Lose through guest speaker Professor Stefan Szymanski.

Still determinedly digging for the alternative stories behind such events as the London Olympics and the World Cup in South Africa, Jennings believes the current economic climate – combined with improved technology - could inadvertently boost his cause.

He added: “I started out at an alternative newspaper with nothing. We had no resources, so it was up to us to find the story. More and more journalists are losing their jobs and this might actually mean they go on their own in search of the story. And nowadays you don’t even need a printing press – just set up a website and you are away.”

Professor Fred Coalter, Director of Research in the University’s Department of Sports Studies, said: “Andrew Jennings, with his background in investigating crime and police corruption, occupies a unique position in sports journalism. He brings the instincts of the investigative journalist to areas which are often not characterised by transparency. In addition, his commitment and zeal are fully evident in his delivery, making him a must see.”

Research Seminars and Lectures in Sport series

Thursday 18 February: Andrew Jennings – Investigative journalism and corruption in sport. Lecture Theatre W1, Cottrell Building.

Thursday 4 March: Dave Newton, MD of Nova International - Mass participation events and mass participation.

Thursday 25 March: Michele Verroken - Is there any integrity left in sport?

Thursday 22 April: Professor Stuart Biddle - Behavioural aspects of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health: Why there isn’t a simple answer to a complex issue!

All events are open to staff, students and the public, and start at 6pm in Lecture Theatre W1 in the Cottrell Building. For more information, email or contact Karen Caldwell on 01786 466498.

For any further details on the seminar series, see:


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