ROME STARS “COME HOME”
A photo of Dr William Penny Brookes – the founding father of the International Olympic Games – looked down on no fewer than ten Olympic medallists at a reunion lunch held at The Raven in Much Wenlock, Shropshire – a hotel with its own unique place in Olympic history.
From the 1860s, The Raven Hotel was the usual venue for members of the Wenlock Olympian Society to meet and organise their Games, and it was back at The Raven that a celebratory feast would mark the conclusion of the Festival of sports and the arts.
More significantly, 120 years ago The Raven Hotel played host to an historic post-Games dinner, when Wenlock Olympian Society was addressed by Baron Pierre de Coubertain - the man credited with founding the Olympic Games as we know them today – and to acknowledge its unique role the hotel today displays original correspondence between the two men.
The celebratory event on Saturday, 31st July 2010 reunited members of the 1960’s summer Olympics team and was organised by former British Olympic Walker, Eric Hall with the Wenlock Olympian Society, who were delighted to welcome over 40 athletes to the event.
Rome medal winners Michael Howard (silver: fencing), David Jones (bronze: 100m relay), Jim Lloyd (bronze: boxing), Carole Quinton (silver: 800m hurdles), Peter Radford (bronze: 100m), Dorothy Shirley (silver: high jump) were joined by other sporting heroes including Ann Packer, who won gold in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and her husband Robbie Brightwell (silver: relay), Ken Matthews, who won gold in the 20km Walk at the same Games and John Disley who won a bronze in the Steeplechase at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.
Each year Eric Hall organises a reunion event in Much Wenlock, cradle of the International Olympic Movement and is delighted that the British Olympic Association has acknowledged the pivotal role that Much Wenlock plays in the history of the Olympics: “The Wenlock Olympian Society has done sterling work to ensure that the remarkable vision of William Penny Brookes has not been forgotten, and it is gratifying to see that his legacy has been acknowledged by naming one of the official mascots after the town of his birth. Hopefully, like our Olympians from 1960, thousands of people will be inspired to visit Much Wenlock to discover a beautiful town with a truly remarkable story to tell”.