Birmingham City University students have revealed their pride in designing the official Commonwealth Games medals as the spectacular sporting event comes to an end. The world’s eyes have been on the city as it hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games over the last 11 days, and a number of Birmingham City University (BCU) staff, students and graduates have been busy playing important roles.
On August 8, BCU graduate and MOBO award-winning singer Laura Mvula was among those performing at the Closing Ceremony at Alexander Stadium, which featured a surprise appearance by Birmingham’s legendary Heavy Metal hero Ozzy Osbourne. Like Ozzy, Laura is a native of the city. She graduated from BCU’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) in 2008 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2018.
The Games saw a whopping 877 medals being handed out – all designed by recent BCU School of Jewellery graduate Amber Alys and two current students Francesca Wilcox and Catarina Rodrigues Caeiro. The trio were inspired by the journey athletes take from training to reaching their goal of competing, with embossed areas of the medals symbolising an aerial map of Birmingham’s roads and canal network.
Amber said: “We wanted to create something with a jewel-like quality so that the athletes had something that they could treasure for the rest of their lives. We really hope they liked them.”
BCU’s Senior Lecturer in Jewellery and Silversmithing Dauvit Alexander added: “Our designers worked to a strict industry brief and produced an outstanding collection of medals. This has been an incredible experience, which has showcased the creativity, dedication and talent of our students.”
Among those to win medals were Team England’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball 3x3 teams, who had been supported during the Games by BCU’s Peter Thain, a sports therapist and Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in Sports Therapy. BCU’s Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry also played an integral role, carrying the Queen’s Baton through Victoria Square as part of its 90,000-mile journey around all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
“The chance to carry the Queen’s Baton on the final leg of its journey filled me with massive pride,” he said. “It has crossed land, sea and air to cover every corner of the Commonwealth, including my parent’s home of Jamaica, and all the way to Birmingham City Centre – just down the road from Dudley where I got my first humungous break – and carried all the way by inspirational individuals whose stories have blown me away. ‘Hats off’ to everyone who has taken part.”
Meanwhile, talented BCU Costume Design and Practice students created over 300 costumes for Wondrous Stories, the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Festival which is a six-month celebration of culture that surrounds the Commonwealth Games.
The Opening Ceremony also saw more musical performances from BCU-grown talent. RBC opera graduate Samantha Oxborough sang the national anthem at the event while she also volunteered during the Games as a security guard.
Duran Duran – whose bass guitarist John Taylor formed the popular band along with Nick Rhodes in 1978 whilst studying at BCU when it was known as Birmingham Polytechnic – also performed as headline act for the Opening Ceremony. BCU also ensured Team India’s athletes and coaching staff were given a warm welcome to the city at an event at RBC, organised in conjunction with the Birmingham-based Consulate General India.
Professor Philp Plowden, Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University, said: “We are so very proud of all our staff, students and graduates for playing an important role in helping to ensure the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have been such a phenomenal success.
“Sitting in the very heart of this city, we are a university dedicated to serving our city and enabling transformation, therefore it has been a delight to see Birmingham and so much of our local talent showcased to the world. I am confident the legacy of the Games will live on for a long time to come.”