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Gold-medal winning headteacher remembered
TRIBUTE: From left: Mike Ridout, master in charge of athletics, Andy Rattue, headmaster, Elizabeth Hooper, Godfrey’s daughter, Stephen Inman, Worcester Civic Society chairman and Tim Curtis, director of sport. 4313437901
A MODEST man, he probably wouldn’t have approved of the fuss, but they’ve unveiled a plaque to Arthur Godfrey Kilner Brown on the wall of the Royal Grammar School Worcester, the seat of learning where he was headmaster for 28 years.
The plus factor for AGK, as he was universally known, is that it is a discreet affair in blue and white and set well above eye level.
However, the recognition is not for his mortar and gown achievement in being one of the city’s best known and longest serving grammar school heads, but to mark his stunning success on the athletics track.
For AGK Brown won two medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
First a silver in the individual 400m, which he lost by a whisker to the American favourite Archie Williams, and then gold when he anchored the British team to victory in the 4x400m relay.
It may have taken a little time, for Mr Brown retired from the RGS in 1978, moved to Sussex and died in 1995, but Worcester Civic Society has at last got round to placing one of its blue plaques in his honour on the wall of his old school.
“We thought marking such success was long overdue,” said Civic Society vice chairman Phil Douce. “It was a wonderful occasion with more than 100 people in attendance. The Brown family was well represented with members coming from all over the country.
Andrew Rattue, the school’s headmaster, said it had received good wishes from all over the world, even from as far away as Iran.
The plaque was unveiled by Mike Ridout, the school’s director of studies, who has taken a major interest in athletics, particularly cross country running, for many years. He knew Godfrey very well and together with Tim Curtis, the school’s director of sport, told a number of anecdotes about Godfrey.
The highlight of the afternoon was the showing of the film of the actual 4x400m relay in which Godfrey won his gold medal.”
The 1936 Games were marked by the rise of Nazism, but Mr Brown always declined to comment on the antics of Adolf Hitler, who famously walked out of the stadium after black American Jesse Owens won the 100m.
Despite drawing the difficult outside lane in the individual 400m, he ran a marvellous race and was only narrowly beaten, and in the process setting a new European record and knocking a full second off his best previous time. On an exciting last lap in the relay, Mr Brown left the American Al Fitch struggling in his wake as he cruised away, bringing home the gold medal in style by 15 metres.
It was Britain’s only track gold of the games.
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