Blue plaque for gymnast Carrie Pickles of Wilsden

by Jane Callaghan in Wilsden, West Yorkshire, England

Blue plaque for gymnast Carrie Pickles of Wilsden
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On 6th December 2018 we successfully raised £160 with 7 supporters in 56 days

To remember Carrie Pickles Pollard who was an Olympic bronze medallist & gymnastics coach but she also coached hundreds of ordinary children

by Jane Callaghan in Wilsden, West Yorkshire, England

This would be the second blue plaque in our village of Wilsden, West Yorkshire, to honour exceptional people who should not be forgotten.

2018  is the 90th anniversary of the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic games where women were, for the very first time, allowed to compete in gymnastics and athletics, although only in the team events.

Carrie Pickles was one of the twelve-strong British ladies' team which competed in drill, apparatus and vault. They were hampered by their uniform of short (six inches above the knee!) tunics and black woollen stockings but they managed to win the bronze medal. Unfortunately they could not afford to stay the extra day for the official presentation and so received their medals at a later date.

Carrie had always been a dare-devil, the second of six children, she was born in Wilsden in 1904 to a grocer and his wife. At one of the earliest Wilsden carnivals, around 1910, a gymnastics display put her at the top of a human pyramid. She became a member of All Saints Gym Club (probably linked to All Saints Church, Bingley), then the family moved to Shipley and Carrie joined the Bradford Gym Club which at that time was producing high calibre gymnasts. 

When she left school she trained as a shorthand typist but continued to train hard in gymnastics, becoming Yorkshire champion and then British Champion, culminating in her Olympic achievement. She went on to be the British Ladies' Olympic Gymnastics Coach at the 1948 London Games and again in 1952 at Helsinki.

But for the people in this area of Yorkshire, perhaps Carrie's greatest legacy is the number of children and their mothers who attended her Gym Clubs at Saltaire and Bingley, the dance classes, and the Keep-fit classes in the surrounding villages. People who, for the most part, had no aspirations to Olympic medals (although she coached those too, including her daughters) but who enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that came from Carrie's belief that they could achieve something more than they had thought they could.

Please help us to honour her memory by donating towards a blue plaque to mark the place of Carrie's birth in Wilsden.

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