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Profile picture of Professor Karen OBrien Vice Chancellor of Durham University

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien looks into the what the New Year has to offer.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? If so, nearly one month in: how’s it going?

Many of us will have pledged to be more active, get fit or lose weight. Whether or not that’s you, I wanted to use this column to share some of the sport and physical activity opportunities on offer here at Durham University.

Sport recognition in our community 

Durham was recently named The Times and Sunday Times Sports University of the Year, recognising the sporting achievements of our students, that many of our graduates go on to professional sporting success, and the investment we’ve made in our sporting facilities - £47 million since 2012.

We have a huge range of activities, clubs and facilities available to local residents. These include running holiday camps (returning soon for February half-term) and junior programmes including hockey, tennis and volleyball. We support local clubs and initiatives including Mums on the Run, Park Run and many others, and we operate community initiatives including community wellness programmes, inclusive football and ‘Fun to Run’.

Our Maiden Castle Sports and Wellbeing Centre is open to all, and visited by nearly 3,000 community users every week. Our Fitness Centre, for example, is open to the public, with annual membership priced £260.

Whatever your fitness goal is for 2023, whether you’ve a marathon in your sights or just want to be a bit more active, we’d love to welcome you and show you what we have to offer. For more information, please visit

Lunar New Year celebrations 

Meanwhile, last weekend our students and staff helped the city celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit, with entertainment and events in the city centre. This is a great example of how as a global, diverse university we can contribute to the cultural life of our city, county and region.

If you missed it, there’s still time to get involved: on Saturday 5th February, our Oriental Museum will be open late, until 8pm, with crafts, music, food and storytelling. Visit our website,, for full details. And while there do sign up to receive our monthly Community Newsletter, which is packed with opportunities to get involved. Visit

What's on

Finally, if you’re free tonight (Thursday 26th January), join us at the Gala Theatre for a discussion exploring the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on refugees, freedom of speech and human rights. This is the latest in our series of events in response to the Ukraine war and is open to all, with free entry for Ukrainian refugees.

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