Dame Kelly Holmes’ recent visit to York to open new £2mn athletics facilities set the University back by £2558.50. The bill included the cost of a commemorative plaque with engraved details of the ceremony, placed at £226.80, and a plaque-unveiling system, coming in at the higher cost of £252.
£350 went on balloons and flowers for the occasion, with catering for VIPs costing £455.20. Microphones, door staff and photography added just under £1000 to the bill.
The event included a “Run with Kelly” community fun run, a Q&A session with the athlete, and the day concluded with a fundraising relay by the York Sport Union lasting 12 hours.
Some students expressed their concern about the cost of the ceremony, with one first year History student remarking that “it’s reassuring to know that the University are working to keep unnecessary costs down while I slowly sink into debt.” The student also remarked that it was “bonkers” to spend £252 on “what is essentially a velvet curtain”.
University Registrar and Secretary David Duncan defended the expenditure, commenting, “the overall investment by the City and the University in the new athletics facilities on campus has been very considerable, and it was right to celebrate the opening in conjunction with local community partners.
“We were delighted to welcome Dame Kelly back to the campus, where she used to train when serving as a soldier in the local barracks. The costs were very reasonable given the scale of the event and the number of participants.”