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Wenlock Olympian Society – a significant part of the modern International Olympic Games’s history founded in 1850 by William Penny Brookes providing annual competitions in sports and the arts to people of every grade
1. Wenlock Olympian Society:
The name – Wenlock Olympian Society (WOS)
Like ‘Wenlock Edge’ and ‘Wenlock Priory’, Wenlock Olympian Society (WOS) is named for the old borough of Wenlock which loosely consisted of the parishes of Broseley, Madeley (including the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge) and Much Wenlock.
Since 1850, WOS has organised an annual Games – ‘Olympic-like’ but not a revival of the Ancient Olympic Games. WOS founder, William Penny Brookes was a doctor and surgeon, and a philhellene. As an exponent of the ‘healthy body for a healthy mind’ concept, he revered the Greek ideal, but tempered the Ancient Greek Games ethos of ‘winner takes all’ with mediaeval English chivalry, fair play and pageantry.
WOS is an independent unincorporated organisation with no connections or affiliations to any local government organisation or charitable body. Currently WOS is seeking incorporated status – limited by guarantee. Members of WOS are volunteers, dedicated to:
– organising an annual Games
– disseminating and publishing the work of William Penny Brookes and the WOS
– supporting organisations inspired by WPB, such as the International Olympic Movement
WOS has a long and interesting history dating back to the first Games held in 1850. Information can be found in the WOS booklet ‘William Penny Brookes and the Olympic Connection’; on the WOS web site: www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk; and in the WOS Media Pack/ material.
William Penny Brookes set up WOS to organise competitions in sports and the arts for people of every grade by holding a dedicated annual meeting. This is still the primary purpose of the WOS.
The WOS team
A team of volunteers staff the WOS and willingly donate hours of their time. WOS has a strong general Committee made up of events organisers and other activity-specific posts such as Archivist, membership secretary, etc., and an Executive Committee made up of six members who are also the WOS Trustees.
WOS owns a unique Archive dating from 1850 to present day, consisting of its Minute Books, photographic records of its Games and the people associated with the WOS, and other fascinating memorabilia. WOS Archives are currently housed in the Corn Exchange (the Town Council offices) through the generosity of Much Wenlock Town Council, and exhibited in Much Wenlock Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Museum and elsewhere.
WOS has published a booklet “William Penny Brookes and the Olympic Connection” which is in the process of being revised. A reprint is scheduled for 2012
A comprehensive Educational Pack has been developed in conjunction with Wolverhampton University‘s Sports Studies department. This is a valuable resource for which we are seeking funding to enable its publication and distribution to all educational establishments, specifically in the UK, but also to an international audience. Extracts from the pack can be downloaded here
All WOS’s activities, including the annual Games, its educational activities and archival work, are funded through patronage, sponsorship and donations. WOS relies heavily on the goodwill of our Patrons and sponsors.
2. Wenlock Olympian Games:
The Games is:
– an annual meeting with a long and revered history
– governed and organised by WOS
– essentially an open meeting to hold competitive events in sports and the arts
– scheduled on the Midland Counties Athletics calendar
– a festival of sports and the arts competitions at their friendliest and best which welcomes local, national and international competitors
– held over eleven non consecutive days and taking place on seven sites in and across Shropshire – centred on Much Wenlock.
– a vital contributing factor to the founding of the modern international Olympic Games
Each competitive event:
– complies with the event’s respective UK national governing body
– is run by a sub Committee or affiliated club
Sports events in 2012 will consist of:
– 6 events for junior competitors aged 7 – 18 years: Badminton, Football, Kwik Cricket, Modern Biathlon, Netball and Volleyball.
– 5 events for senior competitors aged 17 years and over: Bowls, Golf, Masters Swimming, Seven-Mile Road Race, and Triathlon
– 7 events for junior and senior competitors: Archery, Athletics, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Equestrian, Fencing, Hockey and Tennis
– 3 demonstration events (pending official inclusion in the 2013 WOS Games programme): Marathon, Vintage Gliding and Long Distance Challenge Walk/100 miles within 48 hrs
The Live Arts events are:
open to students aged 18 years and under on 31st August of the year of entry and consist of:
– Primary, intermediary and senior Music with sections for: solo instrument, small and group instrumental ensembles, solo voice and choir, and own performed composition.
– Primary, intermediary and senior Creative Writing with sections for: prose, poetry, short story, choral speaking and rap
– Gold, silver and bronze Wenlock Olympian medals: awarded to the respective first, second and third winners in every event except the Long Distance Challenge Walk
– Participation Certificates: awarded to all competitors in the Kwik Cricket in addition to the gold silver and bronze team medals.
– Wenlock Olympian Participation medals: awarded to all competitors in the Seven-Mile Road Race and Triathlon in addition to the gold silver and bronze individual medals. Awarded to all competitors in the Long Distance Challenge Walk
– Various annual challenge trophies, sports equipment vouchers, Wenlock Pottery pieces, etc. are additionally awarded in a number of competitions.