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On Sunday, 22nd July 2012, the weekend before the London Olympics open, Shapwick in Dorset is hosting a Charles Bennett Olympic Mile Race Day in honour of our local hero.  Charles Bennett was the first Brit ever to win an Olympic Gold Medal in track and field. He won the 1500m, the GB team 5000m and won silver for the 4000m steeple-chase at the Paris Olympics in 1900. He was born in Shapwick and nick-named “The Shapwick Express” as he was a train driver on the Bournemouth to Waterloo line. He was a member of The Finchley Harriers.

Our day of celebration will consist of a series of mile races around Shapwick and is open to all ages and abilities. There will be a Village race, a Paralympic Mile, Elite races and an Open race for the general public.

The event is being run for charity in association with Bournemouth and Wimborne Athletic Clubs.

The very first Charles Bennett Mile was held in 2000 and was a huge success and generated a great deal of media interest,  with coverage on National TV and local radio, as well as in National and local newspapers. From the proceeds of this day, Shapwick was able to start a village fund which has since established a commemorative village green and playground. There has been more recent media interest in Charles Bennett with both The Times and The Mirror in December 2011 reporting on the new headstone for his grave in Kinson cemetery. With Olympic fever running high this summer, we are planning to generate an enormous amount of National media interest in this unique event.

We are very fortunate that Charles Bennett’s grandson, Chris Bennett, and his family will be in attendance as well as other special guests, including members and patrons of The Pilgrim Bandits, who we have chosen to be our main charity. The Pilgrim Bandits was started 5 years ago by ex-Special Forces soldiers, who run challenging adventure trips overseas to raise money for injured returned servicemen and women – helping to build their confidence and independence.   Lance bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, will be competing in the Shapwick Paralympic Mile race with his hand bike.

We would love any members of HAC or indeed, veterans and ex-members of The Finchley Harriers to either come along and run or just come along and be part of this unique and very special day.

For further information, please visit www.shapwick.com

If anyone has any information regarding Charles Bennett which you feel would be of interest to us, please contact me via email – sally.brown@shapwick.com