Henley opens first 2012 Olympic exhibition

Press viewing, 10am, Tuesday March 16.
See the ball that Johnny Wilkinson kicked to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup, view The Grand Challenge Cup, find out about WWI amputee croquet heroes, the ball from the first ever Olympic football final, and discover 1930s football etiquette.

Our Sporting Life, a series of around 100 exhibitions across the country set to unveil hidden sporting histories, objects, stories and heroes from communities across the UK, opens its first exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames on 16 March.

Highlights from each of the Our Sporting Life exhibitions will be collected and curated for the world’s greatest exhibition on British sporting heritage to 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 national sports such as the Ashes Urn, Calcutta Cup and more to provide a unique insight how sport has shaped the country, its communities and people.

Our Sporting Life Henley runs until 11 July and has been created with support of the British Olympic Association and British Paralympics Association, both of which have donated objects to the exhibition from their own prestigious collections.

At the launch of Our Sporting Life Henley:

Double Paralympic Gold Medal Winner, Graham Edmunds and Former World and British Mountain Bike Champion Rob Warner, both from the area, will open.
International trial bikers Jack Meek and Nick Goddard, from Henley, perform mind blowing tricks and stunts in the Museum’s galleries.
The ball kicked by Johnny Wilkinson to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final, The Grand Challenge Cup and Calcutta Cup, objects from the London 1908 Olympic Games, including the football from the final won by Great Britain, are among the headline national items for the launch of the exhibition.

Local stories include:
The adventures of Henley Town Football Club. Highlights include photographs from 1912, 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 drawn. Henley lost 5-3. Back in Henley panic 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 describing 60 days at sea with one other person, ranging from murderous thoughts about their rowing partner, daring each other swim as far away as possible from the boat during breaks and the power of perfect partnership.

Champion croquet player Montague Spencer Ell, who lost his arms in the First World War but continued to win championships at the highest level; memories and pictures from the Henley swimming baths, once located in the Thames, but forced out due to pollution; the foundations of Paralympic movement at Stoke Mandeville, through to modern day regional superstars – Sarah Duff, part of the first woman partnership to row across the Indian ocean in 2009; Olympic skier Graham Bell, gold medal winning Paralympians such as Graham Edmunds, and champions from new sports such as Rob Warner’s Mountain Biking triumphs.

The exhibition 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.

10:00hrs: Exhibition opens for preview. Coffee and breakfast provided.
11:00hrs: Bikers perform
1130hrs: Speeches and formal opening with Roy Clare, Chief Executive of the Museum, Library Association and Paul Mainds, Chairman of Our Sporting Life steering committee, and Chief Executive of the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames. Graham Edmunds, Rob Warner and other local sports stars.

Location: The River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF. Free parking is available.

Filming, photography and interviews available.

Full press release will be issued in due course.

RSVP and Further Details

Eliz Helvacioglu or Will Kallaway at Kallaway. or 020 7221 7883 or 020 7221 7883

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