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Laura Saunders née Williamson (at Hymers 2000 – 2003)
   My byline picture
One of the few problems I had when I joined Hymers College in January 2000 was that representing the school at hockey or netball on a Saturday sometimes clashed with Grimsby Town matches. I don’t suppose many of
my predecessors – or successors, come to that – had the same problem! But then sport has always played such an important part in my life. I always knew I wanted a career in sport, but never imagined I would ever get paid to travel around the world and watch it at the highest level.
I was only at Hymers for three-and-a-half years, but I threw myself into everything and made many wonderful friends, some of whom I still count as my closest now we have children of our own. I loved the challenge of striving to succeed at Hymers and the carrot of knowing you would be supported to achieve whatever you wanted, and I was humbled and honoured to be chosen to be Head Girl.
I always used to say I wanted to be a sports lawyer or
a sports journalist, but both careers seemed a distant dream for an A-Level student in Hull. I went for an interview with the army, having been attracted by
the promise of playing as much sport as I wanted at
a Hymers careers fair. But, as my old form tutor Mr Harrison pointed out, when I realised I wouldn’t be going in as Supreme Commander of NATO I rather cooled on that idea. So, instead, I tootled off to read English Literature at Durham University, feeling a little like Hull’s answer to Educating Rita but quickly realising everyone else was winging it too.
I had a brilliant time up there. I rowed for my college, Hatfield, and captained the university netball team. I also wrote for the university newspaper, Palatinate, co-edited and produced the college newspaper, The Hatfielder, and had a short-lived radio show on the university station, Purple FM, called ‘Wake Up with the Northern Monkeys’!
I also read a few books
now and then, but quickly realised that practical work experience was going to be more beneficial if I wanted
to get into newspapers. I spent some time with The Daily Telegraph sports desk
in London, The Sunday Sun and The Journal in Newcastle.
These experiences were vital –
particularly if I had any hopes
of working in football. When I politely asked a senior football reporter if I could spend some time shadowing him while he reported on Newcastle United the curt answer was: “Not in a skirt, pet.” Years later I did smile
to myself when telling him we would not be requiring his freelance services at The Daily Mail, thank you very much.
My role with the netball team at Durham also led to
me becoming heavily involved with high performance sport and coaching at the university. I was selected to go to Zambia for six weeks after graduating to work on a project that used sport as a tool for empowering young street kids. It was an experience that changed my life. I met my future husband, Richard, who had been chosen from Loughborough University, and afterwards we helped to set up The Perfect Day Foundation, a charity that sponsors sporting peer leaders through school and helps British students to challenge themselves by working in Zambia. More than 10 years later we’re still going strong
– the Perfect Day, and Rich and I! We have two children; William, four, and Mary (who was born in March 2018) and live in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
After university I worked for Hawk-Eye Innovations, the company responsible for ball-tracking in tennis, cricket and now football. The initial brief was to try and grow the communications side of the business by selling their
  With boxer Natasha Jonas
  With Ed Chamberlin and Gary Neville for a piece on Sky’s Monday Night Football show

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