Jaz Liddell takes top honour at Love York Awards

Former LGBTQ Officer Jaz Liddell Image: Ben Jancso @ Baluga Photography

Former LGBTQ Officer Jaz Liddell took home the Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award, at the annual Love York Awards ceremony in front of a packed Central Hall. The award recognises students who have “made a positive and significant impact to students’ lives” and “made meaningful and lasting developments in their areas of work”.

After a short film containing heartfelt tributes from many of their fellow students, an emotional Liddell took to the stage amid rapturous applause, thanking their friends and colleagues and praising the progress made by the liberation and transgender networks.

Speaking to Nouse, Liddell commented: “I’m so grateful to the people who nominated and supported me. I sincerely hope that the number of LGBTQ and other liberation network members nominated has raised awareness of the fantastic work being done.”

The Love York Awards are an annual event to recognise the achievements of York students in 14 distinct categories, such as Committee of the Year, Society of the Year, and the Outstanding Leadership Award. In each category, a panel of judges determined a winner and up to two highly commendeds, though only the winners were asked to make a speech.

The assembled crowd were entertained by the wit and wisdom of host presenter Rob McLoughlin OBE, a broadcaster and York alumnus, who has presented for ITV and BBC Radio Five Live. His journalistic talent and humour were easy to see as he played the crowd (for the most part) effortlessly. “Oh come on”, he quipped after one particular joke fell flat, “I’m doing this for free!”

Adding to the atmosphere were a three-piece band who played every winner up to the podium with an eclectic mix of recognisable hits, including ‘All by Myself ’ by Eric Carmen and the Star Wars Imperial March. One unfortunate highly commended nominee was serenaded to the stage by ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’.

Perhaps the moment of the night came when the recently established University of York Memes were presented with the Entrepeneaurship and Innovation Award by Head of Employability Tom Banham, drawing adulation and derision in equal measure from the assembled crowd. The judges noted in particular their “innovative methods…in raising awareness” and the success of their recent ‘goose safety talk’.

Other winners included the University of York Womens’ Rugby Club for their campaign against sexual abuse and sexual violence, and Elliott Duke for his work on NightSafe, DanceSoc took home Society of the Year, while the James JCRC won Committee of the Year.

Overall YUSU can reflect on a successful night: the event ran smoothly, the crowd were suitably entertained, and the evening celebrated a wide roster of deserving winners. On leaving the event, York Award regulars compared it favourably to the previous year: “last year was a bit of a drag”, commented one student, “this year was much, much better”.

YUSU Activities Officer Alex Lusty said: “It’s great to be able to celebrate all the fantastic activities our students engage in. Students’ contributions to the local community are all too often overlooked, so we’re very happy that we were able to highlight the positive impact of the student community.

“Among tough competition Jaz stood out as a nominee as they’ve made huge difference to student experience, really driven the unions equality and diversity agenda and made tangible difference to life at York.”