LIZ Brown, Helen Lower and Michael Ayre, who have represented Wolverhampton with distinction in squash, table tennis and swimming respectively, were inducted into the city’s Sporting Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Aldersley Leisure Village last month.
The sporting champions all spoke of their pride as they were officially immortalised in Wolverhampton’s Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, Oxley Park Golf Club became the latest club or association to make it into its Hall of Fame after celebrating its 100th anniversary last month.
The Sporting Hall of Fame was launched in 1999 by Wolverhampton City Council and Wolverhampton City Sports Advisory Council to recognise the achievements of sportsmen and women on a national and international stage.
Already, dozens of famous faces have been immortalised, both in the pages of a special Hall of Fame book – now on its second volume – and on wooden plaques which adorn the walls of Aldersley Leisure Village.
Liz Brown, a member of Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club who represented her country at Masters level, said, “I’ve been so privileged to have a career doing something that I enjoy and I’m really honoured to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t realise so many stars came from Wolverhampton until I saw the Hall of Fame, so it’s wonderful for the city.”
In 1999, Liz won gold in the World Squash Masters over 40s competition and was the British Masters champion in over 40s and 45s on no less than six occasions between 1998 and 2006.
Helen Lower, who represented England more than 100 times, winning 17 national table tennis titles, added, “I’ve read the names on the Hall of Fame when I’ve been to Aldersley Leisure Village previously and some of the athletes are world class, so for me to be included is a great honour and privilege.”
Helen competed at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006, as well as the European Championships in Eindhoven in 1998, where her team scooped a bronze medal. Since retiring Helen, who is a member of Woodfield Table Tennis Club, has completed a Post Graduate Diploma in elite coaching practice.
Michael Ayre, whose achievements as a swimming coach helped put Wolverhampton on the map, was unable to attend but his daughter Tracey Ayre said, “We are really proud of Dad and as a family we are chuffed – it’s a marvellous thing for him. It’s a superb accolade for someone who really deserves it.”
Michael was appointed to the Wulfrun Squad in 1974, coaching a number of local swimmers to national and international success. His talents were recognised as he was appointed Assistant Coach for England’s visit to Switzerland in 1975. He produced further national champions over the years, with Robin Brew winning silver for Scotland at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Robin and fellow swimmer Ian Collins were then selected to represent Great Britain in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Oxley Park Golf Club was founded on 16th September, 1913, and has produced a string of top players over the years, including Bob Bishop who played in five Open Championships, the Amateur Championship and the Senior Open, and represented Staffordshire 37 times.
The induction ceremony was attended by friends and family as well as sporting colleagues and civic dignitaries.
Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said, “The Sporting Hall of Fame provides a fitting and lasting tribute to the sportsmen and sportswomen of both amateur and professional status who have represented Wolverhampton with such distinction on a national and international stage.”
Peter Holmes, MBE, Chairman of the Wolverhampton Sports Advisory Council, added:
“The members of the Sporting Hall of Fame have all dominated a world stage, either by playing or coaching, and have been wonderful role models for younger generations.
“It is right and proper that their achievements should be marked in this way.”
The Sporting Hall of Fame features a leather-bound book containing pictures and profiles of more than 50 sportsmen and women from the worlds of golf, cycling, football, gymnastics, judo, cricket, athletics, rugby, boxing, power-lifting and weight lifting, motorsport, roller hockey, karate, shooting, horse racing, squash and speedway.
Among the great names recorded are Wolves legends Billy Wright and Bert Williams, along with World Cup referee Jack Taylor, Olympic gold medalists Denise Lewis and Tessa Sanderson, athletics stars Sonia Lannaman, Mark Holtom and Maureen Lewington, gymnasts Hayley Price and Greg Silvester, weightlifter Sid Harrington, cyclists Hugh Porter, Percy Stallard, and Raymond Jones, golfers Charlie Stowe, Diane Bailey and Archibald Compton, squash player Anna Bullock, racing driver and Le Mans 24-hour race winner Richard Atwood, jockey Kevin Darley, tennis players Susan Partridge-Chatrier and Rev John Thorneycroft Hartley, speedway cyclist Roger Ellis, rifle marksman Frank Spittle, table tennis player Fiona Elliot and judoka Craig Fallon.
Sports clubs that have reached their centenary and been inducted into the Hall of Fame include Wolverhampton Cricket Club, Wolverhampton Rugby?Club, Wolverhampton?Swimming Club,?Wolverhampton?Wanderers FC, Wolverhampton?Wheelers Cycling Club, South Staffordshire Golf Club, Penn Common Golf Club, Bilston Lawn Tennis?Club, Bilston Town FC, Wolverhampton Ladies Hockey Club,?Wolverhampton Lawn?Tennis and Squash?Club and Wolverhampton Casuals FC.
Is there a Wolverhampton sports star or club that you think is worthy of joining the Hall of Fame, or someone from the wider Black Country that deserves recognition? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL