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Amy Williams MBE: oration

Read Stephen Baddeley's oration on Amy Williams MBE for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in June 2017.


Deputy-Vice-Chancellor, it is my pleasure to introduce Amy Williams MBE, who is an Olympic gold medalist and accomplished television presenter and who is passionate about supporting sport and her home city of Bath.

We are all accustomed to seeing Amy Williams in and around our Sports Training Village but we should not let that familiarity mask her renown nationally and internationally.

When Amy won gold in the sport of Skeleton at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, she not only became Britain’s first gold medalist in this sport but also became the first British female individual gold medalist in 58 years. Because the ice-track was so fast in Whistler at the Games, Amy was dubbed the “Queen of Speed” for her fast starts and cumulative fast time over four runs. She handled the enormous pressure of being the overnight favourite after two of the four runs and totally nailed her final run to take that gold and set the nation alight. Following this success, she insisted on her home-coming being staged, not in London as is customary, but here in her home city and, specifically, in the Sports Training Village, the location of all the years of intense physical effort, the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ that enabled her to be the best in the world.

My first very brief meeting with Amy will always remain a vivid memory. Just four days into my role as Director of Sport, I had the honour of waiting at the STV main entrance to welcome Amy back. I can still picture her striding up the entrance ramp, gold medal glistening brightly around her neck and an enormous smile lighting up her face as she was greeted by rapturous applause from the hundreds of people who lined the STV concourse to congratulate Amy on her historic achievement.

Amy was born in Cambridge but grew up in Bath, where she was educated at Hayesfield and Beechen Cliff schools. She was originally a 400m runner but a coach saw her potential and Amy switched to skeleton in 2002. She recalls that she wanted to try something new and exciting; well, skeleton certainly fitted that requirement! Amy combined her skeleton career with a University of Bath Foundation Degree in Sports Performance, graduating in 2007. In 2010, she was awarded an MBE for services to sport and, in the same year, became only the fifth person since the Second World War to be made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bath.

Since that trail-blazing, post-Olympic, homecoming day in 2010, Amy has forged a career in the media, appearing as host of the Gadget Show and putting her body on the line for shows based in both arctic cold and searing African jungle temperatures. She has even done a stint of rally driving. TeamGB were quick to snap Amy up as an Ambassador and she has been part of BBC’s presenting and commentating team at the Olympic Winter Games.

In fact, I always wonder what Amy, who has recently become a mother for the first time, will try next. She is certainly a wonderful ambassador for everything to do with women’s sport. She is a significant role model for young and aspiring athletes in the way that she handles herself and in putting 100% into everything she does.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Amy Williams MBE, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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