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50th anniversary

Principal’s 50th Anniversary Charity Challenge

14 June 2017

To see more from the day of the Challenge and from our supporters, check our Storify page

What is the Principal’s Challenge?

On 14 June 2017, my wife, Elizabeth, and I cycled, rowed and ran a total of fifty miles, to mark the University’s 50th anniversary. We started at the School of Nursing in Kirkcaldy, swung by St Andrews, visited our Medical School at Ninewells Hospital and finished at Campus Green.

Why are we doing this challenge?

Pete & Elizabeth Downes

We want to raise money to improve the health and wellbeing of Dundee students to ensure they can reach their full potential. Dundee is recognised as one of the very best institutions for helping those from non-traditional backgrounds into university. However, it is crucial that we continue to support all students once they are here.

Life at university can be a stressful time, particularly if you are the first in your family – as we both were - to enter higher education. Physical activity can counteract stress and help with concentration. Taking part in sport builds skills like leadership, team-working and resilience. The facilities at the Institute of Sport and Exercise are open to all, but sometimes students can miss out because of cost.

Cost is also one of the main reasons students find themselves unable to continue their studies. Unexpected bills, circumstances at home, looking after children or relatives can all make paying for groceries, books and other necessities very difficult. Financial worries hit hard practically, but they can also be very isolating.

How can you help?

By sponsoring our challenge, you will be helping to ensure students have the opportunity to achieve their very best.

Show your support

Your donation will support activities run by our Student Services team, enable students to take part in sport and exercise, and make financial aid available to those most in need. Every donation – no matter how small – will make a difference.

Nifty for fifty

Inspired by the Principal’s Challenge, 'Nifty for Fifty' will see 50 staff members in their fifties change one thing for 50 days to improve their health, wellbeing or environment.

Pete & Elizabeth Downes

Find out more and support them!

Share the challenge

You can help us to smash our target of £50,000 and transform the lives of Dundee students by spreading the word on social media. Visit and share our donation page.

Thank you.

Professor Sir Pete Downes
Principal & Vice-Chancellor

“I am writing to thank you for all your help. At the beginning of university, I suffered severe financial hardship as well as difficult family troubles. My parents separated and I was working three jobs. I applied and received money from the discretionary fund, and it was incredibly helpful. It reduced my stress dramatically and allowed me to carry on only two jobs so I could balance my studies. It also reduced the pressure on my mum trying to support me. The money I received allowed me to pay my bills, pay my rent and buy my books, which I would've found almost impossible otherwise. Without it I would've really struggled through university. Thank you for everything, I can't express how much you have helped me.”

The Triathlon Route

Stage 1

Our challenge began at the School of Nursing in Kirkcaldy. We then cycled along the coast to St Andrews, via Anstruther and Dunino. There was a ceremonial stop-off to mark our historical links with the University of St Andrews. From St Andrews, we cycled to Tayport Harbour.

Stage 2

For the second stage of our triathlon, we rowed from Tayport across the Tay to Broughty Ferry. From there, we cycled to the University's Ninewells campus.

Stage 3

The final stage of our triathlon saw us running approximately 5km from Ninewells Hospital to Campus Green, at the heart of our city campus. We were joined by some of our supporters on this third stage.

You can help ensure students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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