Sheffield Olympian skier swaps slopes for South Yorkshire Police apprenticeship

A former Olympian has swapped the ski slopes for the South Yorkshire streets as she takes on her latest challenge as a police constable.

Molly Summerhayes, 23, took part in the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang in 2018 but after retiring from the world of professional sport has opted for an entirely new career.

Molly, from Sheffield, has just started South Yorkshire Police's Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship at Sheffield Hallam University, which combines on-the-job learning with academic study in a three-year programme.

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She said: “Retiring from sport was one of the hardest things in the world.

Molly Summerhayes.Molly Summerhayes.
Molly Summerhayes.

"After making the decision to stop, I knew I needed to find a career which would give me as much excitement as that had done.

“Policing was something I’d always had at the back of my mind, so I thought I’d give it a go. I was waiting desperately to be able to register for the PCDA and signed up as soon as it opened for applications.”

After sailing through all the different assessment stages, Molly started at Sheffield Hallam University two weeks ago."

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She said: “The best thing about this is that I get a degree, I get to be hands on straightaway and I also get paid a proper wage from the start. It’s a brilliant opportunity that you’re not always told about.

The former Olympian has joined South Yorkshire Police.The former Olympian has joined South Yorkshire Police.
The former Olympian has joined South Yorkshire Police.

“What appealed to me is the fact that every day is different, you’re outside and you get to help people. I knew I wanted to find a job that mattered, I had lived and breathed sport and I wanted to find something I could be that passionate about again – and this time it’s policing.

“Before joining, I was working in a normal job. I might have been to the Olympics but I’m a totally normal person, wanting to make a difference in the city where I’m from – and hopefully that’s what I’m going to do.”

The Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship is one of the three routes approved by the College of Policing as part of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) in order to become a police officer.

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The degree apprenticeship allows entrants to receive practical, on-the-job learning, alongside academic theory and knowledge while earning a wage. Successful completion of the three-year programme results in the award of a degree in professional policing practice.

Molly hasn’t been skiing for nearly two years, but since joining South Yorkshire Police she’s also put her ski boots back on. She said: “I did lose the love for skiing a bit after giving up competing, but since starting my training I thought it might be time to turn that around too.

“I’ve been back out with my sister, Katie - who is also an Olympian! - and now even she’s talking about a future with the emergency services. I’d encourage everyone to think about it, it’s already inspiring me and I’ve only just started!

“I’m so proud to be part of the team, part of Team SYP and to wear the uniform.”