Fircroft School students commemorate runner Albert Hill

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Fircroft School students commemorate runner Albert Hill

Postby Community Editor » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:31 am

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Pupils at Fircroft Primary School paid tribute to a local sporting legend last week by fundraising for a historic plaque in his memory.

Inspired by the achievements of Tooting athlete, Albert Hill, Year 5 students decided to retrace his winning distance from 100 years ago.

A WW1 veteran, Hill won gold and silver medals at the Olympic Games in Antwerp in 1920 – becoming the first Briton to win a double in the 800m and 1500m middle distance events.

The record has only been repeated twice since then, most recently by Dame Kelly Holmes in Athens, 2004.

But Hill did not seek celebrity status after his achievement; he went back to work as a ticket inspector at London Bridge Station.

He also coached leading athletes of his time, including the first black British athlete to win an Olympic medal, Jack London, before eventually emigrating to Canada.

The athlete remains largely unknown, which is why local historian, Geoff Simmons, sought to install a blue plaque on Hill’s former house in Trevelyan Road.

Wandsworth Times: Albert Hill's former house on Trevelyan Road
Albert Hill's former house on Trevelyan Road

Nine-year-old, Leah Simon said: ‘I was amazed to hear about Albert Hill being our first double gold medallist! It’s really inspiring to think someone in Wandsworth achieved that all that time ago!’

Willow Black, also 9, added, ‘It was so exciting to learn about Albert Hill and his amazing achievements; but we also learned that not enough women have blue plaques, yet.’

However, Fircroft students were disheartened to learn that funding for the plaque had taken a backseat, as Mr Simmons’ guided tours were postponed due to the pandemic.

Taking matters into their own hands, the students ran the length of Trevelyan Road past Hill’s house on Thursday (Oct 22).

Emulating the distance that Hill would have covered to win his medals, the class raised money towards his plaque.

Wandsworth Times: Fircroft pupils on Trevelyan Road
Fircroft pupils on Trevelyan Road

‘I was shocked to hear that he could run 800m in 1 minute 53.4 seconds. When we tried that, it took us so much longer!’ Logan Aitken, 9, said.

Mr Simmons said he is overwhelmed by the students’ support.

‘I’m so grateful to these young people. In years to come they will see this plaque and remember that they were a part of making it happen. It's so important to surround ourselves with history and stories of these incredible inspirational people,’ said the local historian.
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