Grace O'Malley-Kumar's parents attend new Nottingham tournament set up in her memory

Sinead O'Malley and Sanjoy Kumar pictured with The Grace O'Malley-Kumar Cup, both wearing blue tops sporting the logo of the foundation set up in their daughter's memory
Sinead O'Malley and Sanjoy Kumar pictured with The Grace O'Malley-Kumar Cup at Nottingham Hockey Centre -Credit:Nottingham Post/Oliver Pridmore

The parents of Grace O'Malley-Kumar said she would have been "leading the show" at a special Nottingham hockey tournament set up in her honour. The event at the Nottingham Hockey Centre today (Saturday, May 4) saw hundreds of people watch six teams compete in bright sunshine for the new Grace O'Malley-Kumar Cup.

University of Nottingham student Grace was killed on June 13, 2023, by Valdo Calocane, who also took the lives of 19-year-old student Barnaby Webber and 65-year-old school caretaker Ian Coates. Nearly a year on since that tragic day in Nottingham, Grace's parents said returning to the city for Saturday's hockey tournament meant a lot to them.

Sanjoy Kumar, Grace's father, said: "Grace had the best year of her life here, she was delighted to be at the university studying medicine, which is what she wanted to do, and played for the first team hockey. She'd be leading the show here because she represented, wanted to make a difference, she would have loved this day.

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"I would like to see this go from strength to strength and to one day become a Pro-Am tournament, because I think that's what it deserves. Grace stood for everything good, she contributed, she was patriotic, she served her country. If she could be any kind of role model for a young lady, then what a beautiful place it would be."

Grace started her hockey playing journey at her local club, Old Loughtonians, before moving to Southgate Hockey Club. Along the way, Grace was selected to represent her country at under-16 and under-18 level, becoming the top goal scorer during her first season.

One of the aims of the day was to raise money for the Grace O'Malley-Kumar Foundation, set up to fund causes including supporting others with their sporting and academic journey and promoting community service. The six teams competing for the cup included Grace's All Star team, led by her brother James.

The event also aimed to raise money for the Barnaby Webber Foundation and the foundation being set up in memory of Ian Coates. James Coates, Ian's son, and David Webber, Barnaby's father, were also among those attending the memorial tournament.

Mr Webber said: "This would be a day [Barnaby] would have loved. Grace was obviously an incredibly good hockey player, she would have loved it. The two people that I feel would have loved this day almost more than anything aren't here, and that's the bittersweet side for me.

"Barney and Grace haven't even been gone a year yet and we're stood here now and doing this. It's a really horrible thing to be in but a beautiful thing, because you see the love people had for them and that to me is probably the most impressive thing.

"Emma [Barnaby's mum] struggles, she really struggles to come and it's her birthday today so she really felt it was just too much for her to deal with. For me, I come into Nottingham and I just have mixed emotions.

"One of the things that Barnaby and Grace were good at was inclusivity, they would never leave anyone in the corner. They had a very diverse group of friends and what we're trying to drive with Barney's foundation is that inclusivity, mainly through cricket, but we are saying it's not just cricket. People that might not come to cricket, might not be able to afford it, [we] socially include them in that so that they can enjoy what Barney loved."

Nicola Fletcher and Mia Brown, close friends of Grace O'Malley-Kumar, picturing wearing blue tops with the logo of the foundation set up in Grace's memory
Nicola Fletcher and Mia Brown, close friends of Grace O'Malley-Kumar -Credit:Nottingham Post/Oliver Pridmore

University of Nottingham students Mia Brown, 19, and Nicola Fletcher, 20, were among the close friends of Grace who attended the hockey tournament in her memory. The pair first met Grace through their shared love of hockey and the trio eventually went on to become "inseparable."

Mia said: "She was such a lovely girl, you always felt so appreciated as a friend. She was such an inclusive girl and I think you can see that today because nobody is left out, everyone has come together."

Nicola added: "Everything that gets written about her is so true, she was that person you'd go to if you felt a bit down and you just needed someone to lift you up. She was so confident but she made other people confident too, she never took all the attention. It made you feel so safe if you had Grace with you because you knew that everyone would be having a nice time."