British sporting greats including Dame Liz Nicholl DBE to discuss breaking barriers in women’s sport at University of Hertfordshire’s Festival of Ideas

 16 April 2024 16 April 2024
16 April 2024

An all-female panel of British sporting greats will be headlining the University of Hertfordshire’s Festival of Ideas.

President of World Netball Dame Liz Nicholl DBE will join fellow netballer Mel Mansfield, as well as Team GB and England Lacrosse player Ella Cohen and Team GB Para Dressage rider Mari Durward-Akhurst on 17 May.

The all-star panel, some of whom have studied or taught at Herts, are set to discuss their careers and breaking new barriers in women’s sport.

Dame Liz Nicholl DBE has been the President of World Netball since 2019 and was re-elected for a second, four-year term in 2023. Liz played netball for Wales at World Cup level and was also CEO of England Netball, Championship Director for the 1995 World Netball Championships and most recently CEO of UK Sport between 2010 and 2019.

In 2000 she received an MBE for her services to netball, in 2005 an OBE for her services to sport, in 2015 a CBE for her services to sport and most recently in 2023 a DBE for her services to netball and sport in general.

Hertfordshire-based international horse rider Mari Durward-Akhurst was part of the Team GB Para Dressage team that won silver at the 2019 European Championships. She has won 11 national titles and 4 international titles and is aiming for selection for the Paris 2024 Paralympics.

Former head coach at Wasps Netball, Mel Mansfield, is currently a performance coach and senior lecturer at Herts. Mel joined Wasps Netball for their inaugural season in 2016 as assistant coach and was promoted to head coach in 2019, before stepping down in 2022.

The panel will be chaired by Fiona Scott, Head of Physical Performance at the University of Hertfordshire.

The University’s largest ever event, thousands of people have already registered their interest for the Festival of Ideas, a free, two-day, family-friendly festival at their College Lane campus on 17 and 18 May. It will feature over 50 sessions showcasing the very best of the University’s research, enterprise and partnerships through workshops, talks, performances, exhibitions, immersive experiences and more.

Free web booking for the Festival of Ideas is currently open, with those interested in attending able to secure their festival ticket, plus book onto exclusive sessions available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, said:

“We are thrilled to announce some of Britain's best sporting talent will be joining us at the Festival of Ideas. These women, some of whom have represented the country on the world stage, are an inspiration to us all. From working trackside at the Olympics to competing in World Cups, sporting stories from their boundary-pushing careers will be a hugely exciting listen.”

Breaking New Barriers for Women in Sport will take place in the Amphitheatre Stage, at 10.15am on Friday 17 May 2024.


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