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The Lord Mayor Margaret Wells presents York College Principal Ken Merry with the Varsity Trophy

York College win first Varsity Challenge against Askham Bryan

York College were crowned narrow winners in the first-ever Varsity Challenge against neighbours Askham Bryan.

Staff from both colleges competed in a variety of activities to decide the inaugural 2024 champions with hosts York claiming a 950-750 triumph, meaning Principal & Chief Executive Ken Merry was presented with the winning trophy by guest-of-honour The Lord Mayor of York, Margaret Wells.

Victories in the Bike Relay, Rounders, Art Challenge, Quiz, Esports, Men’s Tug of War and Speed Chess tournaments tipped the final result in York’s favour, although Askham Bryan took the honours in the Women’s and Mixed Tug of War, Football and Batak, where Hayley Barrow recorded the day’s top reaction score of 46.

The intention is to establish the Challenge as an annual event and to alternate hosting duties with next year’s Varsity being staged at Askham Bryan.

It could also be expanded to incorporate student participation in future years.

Askham Bryan College Principal Dr Tim Whitaker leads from the front in the Tug of War
Art Challenge

The Art Challenge saw teams of four from both colleges produce portraits of their respective Principals Mr Merry and Dr Tim Whitaker using the long-brush technique with varying degrees of success.

Watching over proceedings, meanwhile, were the respective mascots – York College’s Mallory and Askham Bryan’s Tansy Beetle.

Mallory, a ceramic model lovingly crafted by tutors Sam Cook, Dawn Ridsdel and Beccy Ridsdel, was named in honour of the Mallard who has returned to college grounds every Spring since 2020 to nest and have her ducklings.

Askham Bryan, meanwhile, chose the Tansy Beetle in recognition of the college’s close relationship with the Tansy Beetle Action Group.

The endangered, iridescent green jewel-toned insect is primarily endemic to York and can be found in pockets along the River Ouse.

Speed Chess
Bike Relay

York College & University Centre Head of Organisational Development Sharon Devlin and her planning team of Kyle Alexanders, Charlie Barnes, Dave Flett, Emily Grimes and Sue Newton-Denton organised the event with Principal & Chief Executive Mr Merry saying: “We had the pleasure of hosting the inaugural Varsity competition and, while we were very lucky with the weather, the atmosphere of friendly competition was even better!

“It was a closely fought battle with staff from both sides giving it their all and I was delighted to be the winning Principal and to pop the silverware in our ever-growing trophy cabinet. We look forward to visiting Askham Bryan College next year to defend our trophy in the hope that we can turn this into an annual competition between our two colleges.”

Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer and Principal of Askham Bryan College, added: “It was great to see colleagues from both colleges participating and competing in an array of activities; creating connections and relationships that will build external support networks.

"Thanks to York College for hosting us and all the sponsors for supporting a fantastic intra-college competition. Can’t wait to host the event next year and battle for the winners' cup.”

Both colleges would also like to thank overall event sponsors FE Associates as well as The Grand, Skosh, Hollywood Bowl, PuttStars York, Middlethorpe Hall, York Pavilion, The Impossible, Phillip Anthony Photography, The York Roast Co and Barclays for donating a range of wonderful prizes for participants.