First of 100 Exhibitions to Celebrate The Nation’s Sporting Life Opens
- Exhibitions build towards largest ever exhibition of British sporting heritage to be held in London for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games -
- Johnny Wilkinson’s World Cup winning ball, the murderous thoughts of Atlantic rowers, the ball from the first ever Olympic football final, WW1 amputee croquet hero, 1930s football etiquette highlights in first exhibition.-
16 March 2010: The starting pistol has been fired on the build up to the UK’s greatest ever sporting exhibition. Our Sporting Life, a series of 100 exhibitions across the UK exploring our addiction to sport and our sporting heritage, opened its first exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames today.
Our Sporting Life will reveal hidden sporting histories, forgotten heroes, objects and stories in communities across the UK. Local people and sports organisations are being asked to put forward objects and memorabilia that can help tell the story of their sporting life and work with museums to create their Our Sporting Life exhibition. Highlights from each exhibition will become part of the largest ever exhibition of British sporting life and heritage and will be held in London for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Objects and stories from the nations and regions will be joined by icons and treasures from our national sports, such as the Ashes Urn, Calcutta Cup, and the football from the 1966 World Cup Final to name a few will provide a unique insight into how sport has shaped the country, its communities and people. People can also get involved and submit ideas on line via the Our Sporting Life website: www.oursportinglife.co.uk
Our Sporting Life Henley was opened by Roy Clare, Chief Executive, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Cllr Malcolm Leonard, Chairman, South Oxfordshire District Council with double Paralympic Gold Medal Winner, Graham Edmunds and former World and British Mountain Bike Champion Rob Warner, both from the area. International trial bikers Jack Meek and Nick Goddard, from Henley, performed tricks and stunts in the museum’s galleries. [link to pictures below].
Our Sporting Life Henley has been created with the support of the British Olympic Association and British Paralympics Association, both of which have donated objects to the exhibition from their own prestigious collections. Highlights from Our Sporting Life Henley include:
- Adventures of Henley Town Football team. Highlights include photographs from 1912, when the team travelled to Rouen to play the Club Rounaise at the home side’s expense - a major undertaking at the time. Over 6,000 spectators watched the game – still the highest crowd Henley Town has ever recorded. Henley lost 5-3. Back in Henley upset was caused by a rumour they had lost 20-0 and all been put in prison. The Club’s minute book from 1931 outlines the etiquette of hosting visiting teams - hot baths for the competition and cold baths for the Henley Town team.
- Atlantic rowers describe 60 days at sea with one other person, including murderous thoughts about their rowing partners, daring each other to swim as far away as possible from the boat during breaks and the power of a perfect partnership.
- The foundations of the Paralympic movement at Stoke Mandeville, with photographs showing how sports such as wheelchair basketball developed.
- Photographs of local hero Montague Spencer Ell, a champion croquet player who lost his arms in the First World War but continued to win national championships. He is credited with significantly advancing sport for disabled people and developing sports at Stoke Mandeville and was awarded a gold badge and certificate of Life Membership from the British Legion
- Memories of swimming in the Thames, swimmers were chased from the river by zealous boatmen and finally forced out due to pollution. With the river cleaner the swimmers returned. One example is the ‘Henley Swim’ daring to face the wrath of officials and swim the Henley Royal Regatta course during the competition. It now attracts almost 200 people to complete the course before the first rowing race begins.
- Modern day superstars including Sarah Duff, part of the first female team to row across the Indian ocean in 2009; Olympic skier Graham Bell, gold medal winning Paralympian Graham Edmunds, and champions from new sports such as Rob Warner’s Mountain Biking triumphs.
Objects from national sports and British Olympic Association and British Paralympics Association include:
- Objects from the London 1908 Olympic Games, include a stopwatch and starting pistol from the track and field competitions and the football used in the Olympic final – Great Britain beat Denmark 2-0 to win Gold. 1908 was the first time Football was included in the Olympic Games. All the matches were played at White City Stadium, Shepherds Bush. The surprise of the tournament was Denmark beating France with a record score of 17 – 1 in the semi-final. After the defeat, the French withdrew from the tournament declining to compete for the Bronze Medal.
- The inclusion of sports memorabilia such as Sandy Irvine’s Kettle found in his tent on Everest at 23,500ft in 1924 after he and George Mallory disappeared, illustrate how sport is not just a competition against others, but often the elements and ourselves.
- The ball dropped kicked by Johnny Wilkinson to win the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final, on loan from the Rugby Museum, Twickenham and The Grand Challenge Cup from the Henley Royal Regatta.
Our Sporting Life is funded by Museums, Libraries, Archives Council (MLA) through The People’s Record and Renaissance and created by the Sports Heritage Network, which comprises all the UK’s major sports museums and archives. The People’s Record is a once in a lifetime opportunity for museums, libraries and archives to connect with eye witness stories for London 2012.
Roy Clare, Chief Executive, MLA says: “Our Sporting Life is an exciting example of the bond between sport, culture and people, an innovative and stimulating evocation of the Olympian ideal. Linking creative organisations across the country, Our Sporting Life presents a wide range of opportunities for engaging the public and inviting the participation of individuals and communities. The various activities will make a substantial contribution to the festivities that will infuse the Cultural Festival being planned in conjunction with the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The MLA sees Our Sporting Life as an enlightened initiative that we are very pleased to support through our Renaissance programme that invests in England’s regional museums.”
Paul Mainds, Chairman of Our Sporting Life steering committee, and Chief Executive of the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames, says: “Sport is a pulsating artery of life in our communities. It brings people together and shapes us as individuals. Sporting objects and memorabilia provide particularly powerful and unique records of our lives and national events. We’re asking people to find the objects that tell the stories of their sporting lives and help create exhibitions that tell the story of sport in their community. The best of these objects will be included in the major Our Sporting Life exhibition in London in 2012, sitting alongside national sporting icons and together represent the breadth of Britain’s contribution to the world of sport.
“Our Sporting Life Henley sets the template and will be developed by the hundred exhibitions to come around the country. I believe that, with the support that we now have from the MLA and from the other museums in the Sports Heritage Network, we can look forward to a fantastic series of exhibitions across the country over the next two years and remarkable national Our Sporting Life exhibition in 2012.”
Graham Edmunds, double Paralympic Gold Medal Winner, said: “Sporting objects and memorabilia have the power to educate, inform and inspire. People are often astonished that a bit of kit or sporting device is far different than they assumed, and this brings them closer to sport, sparking new questions and inquiry. Our Sporting Life will help people get closer to sport and share the memories and passion sport creates – from past glories to the new hopefuls. It’s fantastic to see sports taster days being linked to Our Sporting Life, having seen the exhibition I hope as many people as possible will be encouraged to give a new sport a go.
“I am so pleased that the first Our Sporting Life exhibition is opening in Henley, not only is it where I went to school , but also shows the diversity of sports that can exist in one town. Henley is linked with rowing, but the exhibition shows there is huge passion for a wide range of sports and the increasing popularity, awareness and participation in disability sports. I look forward to seeing the different variety of sports explored through the next Our Sporting Life exhibitions to take place.”
Sport taster days
South Oxfordshire District Council has supported the Our Sporting Life Henley exhibition and arranged ‘taster days’ at the River & Rowing Museum to enable people to try a new sport. Sports on offer include Hockey, Rugby, Tennis, Cricket, Croquet and Golf. Details at www.rrrm.co.uk.
London 2012 Inspire Mark
Our Sporting Life Henley has been granted the London 2012 Inspire Mark from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games. The London 2012 Inspire Mark recognises outstanding projects and events inspired by the Games to help deliver a lasting legacy across the UK.
Future Our Sporting Life Exhibitions
Our Sporting Life exhibitions are currently being developed in the South West, North East and West Midlands. Details of these exhibitions will be announced soon. People can get involved in Our Sporting Life is at www.oursportinglife.co.uk
Further information and pictures
William Kallaway at Kallaway: 020 7221 7883 or William@kallaway.com
Pictures at: http://www.kallaway.co.uk/rrm-picture-library-login.asp
Our Sporting Life Henley, 16 March – 11 July 2010.
The River & Rowing Museum (www.rrm.co.uk),
Henley on Thames,
Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF
Tel: 01491 415600.
Tickets give FREE admission to the Museum a whole year.
Admission is just £7.50 for adults, £5.50 for children aged four and over, FREE for children aged three and under and £5.50 for senior citizens and concessions.
Free parking for visitors.
Opening times: The Museum, terrace café and shop are open every day from 10am - 5.30pm in summer and 10am - 5pm in the winter
Get involved with Our Sporting Life
Our Sporting Life wants to hear your sporting memories, everyone is encouraged to get involved. Leave your thoughts and ideas at: www.oursportinglife.co.uk
Our Sporting Life Partners
The project has the support of numerous bodies both officially and unofficially, including the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, Sport England, the CCPR, Arts Council, Sport England, English Heritage and Visit Britain. Currently, over 20 sports are signed up as heritage partners with the objective of securing the participation of virtually every sports association or body.
Sports Heritage Network members
About the River & Rowing Museum
Members include National Football Museum, MCC Museum at Lord’s, Wimbledon, the R&A Museum at St Andrews, the River & Rowing Museum at Henley, the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham, the National Horseracing Museum, Wheelpower, representing the Paralympics; British Dragon Boat Racing and The Wenlock Olympian Society.
The River & Rowing Museum, an independent
charity, is one of the UK's leading regional
and sporting Museums, attracting over 100,000
visitors a year to its site at Henley On Thames.
The Museum provides superb value for money.
Tickets are £7.50 for adults and £5
for children and provide free access for one
year for the price of just one ticket. The
Museum celebrates four themes explored through
a wide variety of exhibitions and events across
four galleries and special exhibitions:
past, present and future of the River Thames
historic riverside community of Henley on
international sport of rowing
Wind in the Willows
The Museum also has a purpose built education
centre visited by over 20,000 children and
adults a year. Since opening in August 1998
the Museum has received numerous awards
including the National Heritage/NPI Museum
of the Year award, the Sandford Award For
Heritage Education and the Learning Outside
the Classroom Quality Badge.
Museums, Libraries, Archives Council (MLA)
Leading strategically, the MLA promotes best practice in museums, libraries and archives to inspire innovative, integrated and sustainable services for all. Visit www.mla.gov.uk
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