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Olympic Torch Relay to pass through Lincolnshire village with special connection

By East Lindsey Target  |  Posted: June 06, 2012

PIECE OF HISTORY: Gladys Carson is pictured after her 1924 bronze medal win at the Paris Olympic Games. She is buried in Hogsthorpe churchyard which the Olympic Torch will pass on its relay later this month.

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THE route of the Olympic Torch relay will take it through an east coast village with its own special connection to the Games.

Hogsthorpe is preparing to welcome the flame when it passes through on June 27, and an exhibition is being held recognising the little known achievements of one of its former residents.

At the age of 21, Gladys Carson won a bronze medal at the 1924 Olympic Games, held in Paris, in the 200-metre breaststroke event.

Although living in Leicester at the time, Gladys and her husband George Hewitt retired to Hogsthorpe and she is now buried in the cemetery at St Mary's Church.

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Her daughter Lucy Partridge lives in Carson Close, named after her mother whose time was three minutes and 30 seconds, three seconds behind the winner.

Lucy said: "Mum was used to swimming 200 yards and that little bit extra did make a bit of difference to her.

"She did get a good time in the heat but in the final that's how it goes."

Much of Gladys' training was carried out in the Leicester canal, early in the mornings before college, with her father riding his bike along the bank.

She met her husband soon after her medal win and decided to settle down, pursuing a career as a primary school teacher.

Lucy said: "My father used to say, now you watch the Games and even if they don't win a medal, they are celebrities. He used to say mum didn't get the recognition she deserved but in those days you didn't.

"She went across to Paris on a boat and stayed in a hotel, there was no Olympic village like there is now. She enjoyed looking around Paris and brought lots of photos back. It was the first time she had been abroad.

"Everyone who went to the Games did it on their own, there wasn't the sponsorship like there is today.

"She kept up the swimming. We used to come to Chapel St Leonards for a holiday and first thing in the morning we would all go down and have a swim in the sea, she would get us out of bed no matter what the weather.

"She was ever so interested in watching the Olympics and both her and dad would have been really pleased this was going on here now.

"I don't think many people realise the torch is going through a village where an ex-Olympic swimmer is buried."

Gladys' family sought special permission from the Olympic Games organising committee to have the five rings placed on her headstone.

Shortly after her death, aged 84, a commemorative pin badge was awarded to her family by Princess Anne, to mark her achievement.

St Mary's Church will be open until 2pm on the day of the torch relay where visitors will be able to view Gladys' bronze medal, and the pin badge together with photographs and certificates from her swimming career.

Refreshments will also be served during the morning.

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