Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP arrived at Loughborough College on Friday to visit the facilities and students behind its global reputation for Sport and to go backstage at the leading Arts Academy.
The Secretary of State was joined by Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, and both were welcomed by the College’s Interim Principal Colin Butler and Chair of Governors Audrey Traynor before exploring the creative arts facility, which includes a 250-seat theatre, recording, art, dance and photography studios.
The Minister enjoyed a glimpse of rehearsals for a major drama school audition – which the College is hoping will build on last year’s success, when every young actor who auditioned was offered a place – and shared preparations for the forthcoming Loughborough College production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, before chatting to students about their ambitions.
After touring just some of the world class sporting facilities on offer to those studying at the College, which produced 32 athletes who competed at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 14 medals and four MBEs for students and alumni this year for services to athletics, the Secretary of State met students studying for the Advanced Apprenticeships in Sporting Excellence.
Loughborough is a leading college for AASE, delivering programmes to Premiership football clubs, athletics (2017 World Para Athletics Championship Gold medallists and Paralympians Sophie Hahn MBE and Olivia Breen and Paralympic double gold medallist and World champion cyclist Sophie Thornhill are all current students), motorsport, tennis (student Katie Boulter made her Wimbledon debut this year), hockey, netball, volleyball (the College is home to Volleyball England and students have recently been selected for the England side) and rugby – with many RFL players going on to sign Super League contracts and the pioneering Women’s RFU programme producing players selected to play in the national side.
The Secretary of State dropped in on training sessions and then spent time with Sport apprentices from the award-winning Coaching in Schools initiative, which provides valuable roles in primary and secondary schools across Leicestershire and Rutland and has been praised for its impact on inspiring and motivating young people in sport and in the classroom – with many schools so happy they’ve taken on two apprentices and given them jobs.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said: “Loughborough College is renowned for its sporting prowess and it has been fantastic to see the state-of-the-art training facilities that have developed so many of our top British Olympic and Paralympic stars. Their Arts Academy is also a wonderful new space, and shows the College’s commitment to providing world-class arts education.”
Colin Butler added: “We were delighted to welcome Secretary of State Karen Bradley to Loughborough College. It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the outstanding facilities and exciting range of opportunities we offer – and particularly to share the national and often global success of our creative arts and sport students.”
Nicky Morgan commented: "It was a real pleasure to show Karen Bradley around Loughborough College. She was able to see at least two of the things the college does brilliantly - its performing arts and drama courses and sports excellence. I know she enjoyed chatting to the theatre and sports stars of the future and she could see how the College is nurturing and educating such talented and committed students."
Following on from her tour of College facilities the Secretary of State, alongside the Loughborough MP, travelled the very short distance to the University campus where both parliamentarians were provided with tours of the world class National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and High Performance Athletics Centre (HiPAC).
Mrs Morgan said “Living in a town like Loughborough it can be very easy for all of us to take our outstanding sports science, health and coaching facilities for granted. Having the opportunity to visit just a few of our wonderful centres of excellence with the Secretary of State focusses the mind on how incredibly fortunate we are, and how determined we all must be to ensure that we maintain our town’s status as being among the leading centres for sport globally.”