Monday, 28 March 2011


Lady Victoria Leatham, this year's Second Master Warden, has a great interest in the Olympic movement following on from her father, the Marquess of Exeter.  He won the 400 metre hurdles gold medal at the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928.  He was later President of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 1948 Summer Olympics. He was also the inspiration for the character played by Nigel Havers in Chariots of Fire although the film plays fast and loose with dates and facts

Victoria proposed that the Great XII companies should financially help the excellent work of the Ron Pickering Foundation that supports our young athletic hopefuls by providing much needed financial support for training and equipment.  For more details go to  This year the Foundation is very much focused in supporting those who have a chance to qualify for the Olympics next year

The fund raising amongst the Great XII has gone well.  To celebrate the progress made members of the Ron Pickering Foundation and some of the young athletes they support were invited for a buffet lunch at the hall.  Also invited were those who were likely to be masters and prime wardens of Great XII companies when the Olympics are held next year.

The young athletes were a most impressively modest and dedicated group.  To say that preparation for the Olympics is gruelling is an understatement and when there is also the pressure of school and college work the pressure is very great indeed.  It is clearly a rigorous and mentally demanding process and requires a huge sacrifice from those involved.  This is made even tougher as the selection will not be made until June next year so some who are working really hard today might not get through.

The best image I can find of the medal struck for the IXth Olympiad at Amsterdam.  This one is not in very good condition and the background does not help much.  Lord Burghley's was in beautiful condition.
 Victoria gave a most inspiring talk where she recalled her father's success in 1928 despite a relative lack of interest by his family and hoped that we were doing better.  She had also brought her father's gold medal, the first time it had left Burghley House, since he returned from Amsterdam.

Tom Macnab, a member of the Foundation and a well-known coach, gave an interesting insight into the dedication needed to succeed.

It was also good to see Jean Pickering MBE, who, before she married Ron, was a member of the women's 4x100 metre relay team that won a bronze medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 was present.

It was really heartwarming to meet a most dedicated cross section of our Olympic hopefuls and we wish them every success for next year and can take pride that Victoria's initiative has played a part in helping them succeed.

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