Interview: Cathy Pendreigh, candidate for AU president

Photo: Maria Faciolince

Read our analysis of Ms Pendreigh’s manifesto here.

Why do you want to become president of the Athletic Union?

First of all, I’m passionate about sport and particularly sport in St Andrews. I’ve been involved in sport at the University since my very first weeks of being here. I was one of the first members of what was then the recently founded Triathlon Club and my involvement with that particular club has been the highlight of my time in St Andrews. I’m eager to give something back and I feel that being president of the AU will allow me to do that.

What past experience do you have which will be useful in the role?

Well, although it is slightly different from sport or competitive sport, I was the treasurer of the Harry Potter and Gin society. While it might not be particularly sporty, there are certain transferable skills involved. Within the Triathlon Club I have been social secretary and this year I have held the position of development officer. That has involved improving the club’s standing and making sure our members have the best possible opportunities to enjoy the sport. As a pursuit, triathlon is one of the most rapidly developing in Britain, so I have recently with the help of British Triathlon been able to set up a sprint race to take place in St Andrews. We’ve also worked with Scottish Triathlon over a multi-sport league, so I think I’ve helped make a positive contribution to the Club. I was also a member of the Tennis Club but I was not a committee member.

Perusing your manifesto I saw that one of your policies would be to introduce an equal opportunities fund. Could you elaborate on how that would work?

Already the AU provides clubs with funds to help fund transport to BUCS, for example. However, there are certain things which they at the moment don’t help with funding for. If you are unable to fund the purchase of a particularly expensive piece of kit then that can prove quite detrimental to not only your sporting development but your enjoyment of university life. So this is why I would set up a completely confidential application system which would allow for the AU to assist students who need financial support.

Who would decide on whether one application was worth more consideration than the other?

As president I realise that I cannot do everything so I would envisage a panel drawn from the AU exec helping make the decision.

Another key part of the manifesto is your plan to demystify the inner workings of the AU. Having spoken to the committee members of some sports clubs I suspect this would be a popular move…

As a member of the new Triathlon Club several of the members really didn’t know what the procedure was regarding what to do and how to do it, and at the time we felt that we didn’t get much help from the AU. Jess Walker has done very well in making things more transparent and clear, with her breakdown of the transport budget being an example. However, I still feel that AU procedures and the decision-making process need to be clearer and better understood for sports clubs to operate properly and feel that they can work with the AU, so it is my intention to produce a document of some kind explaining how the AU works and what clubs have to do to apply for funding for example.

You’ve also spoken about making the AU appear more accessible, but surely those with an interest in sport will still join a particular club or still go to the gym regardless of any initiatives?

I think for a recently arrived fresher joining a club can seem quite daunting, so my target audience would be those people who haven’t got a particular sport but have an interest in picking one up. That’s why I would plan to go round the halls of residence in Freshers’ Week and speak to the new intake, just to show them that the AU is an exciting, friendly and inclusive body. I think that and marketing the AU through social media, as Lexi Martin has been doing so well this year, is crucial to the continued success of the AU.

What about working with current committees and members?

It’s my plan during the election week to go round as many clubs as possible and get to know them. While I know that this is quite a difficult thing to keep up, I hope that the initial contact will show the members of various teams that I would be a president who is willing to do the best for them and listen to their concerns.


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