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26 February 2010 | PR 10/32

Loughborough sports chaplain heads to Paralympics

Mary Vickers

Mary Vickers

Loughborough University's visiting sports chaplain Mary Vickers will be flying the Loughborough flag at the Winter Paralympics this March when she travels to Vancouver to work with the athletes during the Games.

The Games take place from March 12 to March 21 and Mary will be based in the athletes' village in the host city as one of two chaplains from the UK in a ten-strong team aiming to offer pastoral care to the many sportsmen and women descending on the venue.

Mary has fulfilled the same role at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2009 Athletics World Championships in Berlin but says this will be the first time she will work closely with disabled athletes:

"I am really pleased to be invited to work in the chaplaincy at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics. I really enjoy the ambience of a winter sports town. It's a challenge because I've not previously worked closely with elite athletes with a disability, so I'm looking forward to experiencing that environment in Vancouver.

"I've tried downhill skiing and have been doing cross country skiing for the last three years and I enjoy it very much, so to be involved in the Winter Games is very special for me. I know it will be hard work, but the thought of being involved in an environment I've not closely experienced before appeals to my inquisitive nature.

Mary and her colleagues will be on hand from 8.00am to 9.00pm every day of the games. She added: "We'll have faith centres and there will be things like bible studies and worship but we're also there for people to come and talk to us. We'll be out meeting people where they're training or at the venues or on the way to compete, and we're there to be called if people want us. Chaplaincy basically is about being around. It comes from a faith perspective but it's offered to people of all faiths and none."

And despite having offered her pastoral services to some of the world's greatest athletes over the years, Mary insists she will never mention any names: "One of the important parts of chaplaincy is that people can come to us in total confidence," she said.

"Somebody might have come to me for a personal reason, or something negative, or just, as some athletes do, having just recorded a personal best, but I wouldn't ever give a name away!

"I'm looking forward to taking what I learned in Berlin into a new context. It was a really valuable experience to immerse myself into the culture of the event and feel the value of being there for the athletes and staff. You're there 24/7 as a chaplain, there's no off-duty because you need to be there for anyone that wants to talk no matter where you are."

You can keep up to date with Mary's work in Vancouver on her blog, http://sportschaplain.blogspot.com

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Danny Coyle
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: D.Coyle@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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