Six times world champion and five times Commonwealth Games gold medallist bowler Alex Marshall MBE was humbled to learn the story of Arthur Wharton when he visited Darlington South Park Bowls Club.
The club recently held a fundraising event as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations, which saw guest of honour Shaun Campbell receive a cheque for £200 and 'Bowl is Bowls' donate £100.
Shaun is the founder of the Arthur Wharton Foundation, which was created in 2010 to commemorate the life and achievements of Wharton, an international sporting pioneer.
Born in Ghana, Arthur moved to England in 1883, to train as a missionary at Cleveland College, Darlington.
He became the first official fastest man when he ran a record time of 10 seconds dead in the 100 yards (now meters) on July 3, 1886 at Stamford Bridge, London. This World Record would stand for over 30 years.
But this was not all as Arthur went on to become the world's first black professional footballer and also later became a cycling champion, professional cricketer and a rugby player.
Arthur’s achievements in the face of adversity, his contribution to the communities he lived in and the scale of his successes make him a unique figurehead.
haun said: “My father came over from Barbados, he is black and my mother is white so I had a very multicultural upbringing.
“I found myself falling in love with dance then later began writing music for that art form.
“In 2007 I was invited to give a talk for Black History Month and learnt about Arthur Wharton, I thought I needed to do something for this remarkable sportsman that nobody had ever heard of.
“I thought that somebody was going to have to do right by this young man and the rest is history.
“I am an avid sports fan, I am a competitor. I just love the whole aspect of sport from its mental health and wellbeing properties to its therapeutic avenues to its physical fitness.
“All sports have different strengths and different weaknesses which is why I think sport is so powerful. And to think that I was so in to sport but had not heard of this man, I thought I will start a campaign.
“I got in touch with George Boateng at Middlesbrough Football Club to be a patron who is Ghanaian. I then got in touch with Stevie Wonder by default, I got his blessing and he announced the Arthur Wharton Foundation on stage which we did not yet have.”
Now the foundation celebrates Arthur’s achievements through education and events aimed at promoting equality and diversity in order to impact the hearts and minds of a generation.
The charity was the perfect choice for Darlington South Park, a forward-thinking club that champions accessibility and diversity.
Scott Morland (Right) said:
“The fundraising day was the perfect way to end our 125th anniversary in style."
“All proceeds from entry, raffle and raffle to bowl with or against Alex Marshall MBE (left) went towards The Arthur Wharton Foundation. This charity was chosen as part of our 'Inclusion Project' that has been run for our anniversary.
Shaun Campbell (Middle) also played bowls for the first time with us in Zero Bowls.”
The fundraising day was part of a special weekend long event organised by Bowls is Bowls the organisation set to Promote all formats of Bowls Equally to EVERYONE starting in Northamptonshire, then Yorkshire and finishing in Darlington www.bowlsisbowls.com
Further information can be found at Arthur Wharton, the World's First Black Professional Footballer (arthurwhartonfoundation.org)
Also have a listen to Shaun chat about “Arthur” on the Wrong Bias PODCAST released on 14 November 2021 Homepage – Wrong Bias