Andy Murray backs campaign to honour role of sportsmen in WWI

Andy Murray has backed the campign to commemorate the role played by sportsmen during the First World War.
 Picture: Contributed
Andy Murray has backed the campign to commemorate the role played by sportsmen during the First World War. Picture: Contributed
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Wimbledon and Olympic champion Andy Murray has joined forces with the Royal British Legion to commemorate the role of sportsmen in the First World War.

The tennis ace is backing the armed forces charity’s Sport Remembers campaign, which commemorates the vast number of footballers, rugby players, golfers, cricketers, boxers, tennis players and Olympians who gave up their careers - and their lives - for their country.

The charity is calling on the nation’s sporting organisations, clubs and individuals to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Many professional tennis players served in the First World War including Jack Hillyard, whose father helped create the modern Wimbledon and whose mother won six ladies’ singles titles.

Other tennis players who fell in the war include the sport’s “first great superstar” and four-times Wimbledon champion Tony Wilding - the only man before Bjorn Borg to win four straight men’s singles titles - and Private Kenneth Powell, who played seven times at Wimbledon and competed for Britain in the 1908 Olympics.

Murray said: “During the First World War many tennis players left the court for the battlefield and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

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“I find it humbling that so many players sacrificed so much for us, and I’m proud to be part of the Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign and commemorate the role played by sportsmen on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”

The Royal British Legion has released a toolkit which includes a souvenir pennant, poems, readings and music and is calling on clubs and individuals to commemorate the anniversary at a local level.

The Sport Remembers campaign is being supported by almost every major sporting organisation in the country, including the FA, the PGA and Team GB, the charity said.

Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, national chaplain to the Royal British Legion, said: “The Battle of the Somme is the costliest in British history. With sport in the UK suspended for the war, athletes and players served and fell in great numbers at the Somme.

“The Royal British Legion is calling on sports at all levels to remember their contribution by holding their own commemorative event, and we hope the toolkit will help with this.

“Sport has the ability to touch every community and we hope that Sport Remembers will unite our nation in ensuring their sacrifice is never forgotten.”

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