By Tom Degun

May 20 - Much Wenlock was today celebrating the honour of having the mascot for the London 2012 Olympics named after the tiny town in Shropshire.

Wenlock’s name is inspired by the village where the Wenlock Olympian Games, which were created by William Penny Brookes, are held and were one of the inspirations that led to Baron Pierre de Coubertin to creating the Olympic Movement, including the first Modern Games at Athens in 1896.

Helen Clare Cromarty, a spokeswoman for the Much Wenlock Olympian Society, admitted that they had no idea that the mascot was going to be called Wenlock until the announcement was made last night on The One Show on BBC One.

Cromarty claimed that even the arrival in thetown of Olympic triple jump gold medallist and London 2012 Ambassador Jonathan Edwards at the Priory Hall in Wenlock for the evening alongside locals, dignitaries and Wenlock Olympic Society members did not give them a clue.

She said: "There were 130 people crowded into Priory Hall for ‘An evening with Jonathan Edwards’ and there was no warning about what was going to happen.

"Jonathan introduced the short animated film and then stood back to watch with us all.

"When the little mascots’ names were said, there was an audible gasp of astonishment and as the film ended, everyone clapped and cheered!"

Much Wenlock, which has a population of only 2,605, grew around an abbey or monastery founded around 680 by Merewalh, a son of King Penda of Mercia.

The Wenlock Olympian Games were set up by Brookes in 1850.

In 1861 he was also instrumental in setting up the Shropshire Games and later in 1866, the National Olympian Games.
It was following meetings between Brookes and de Coubertin, that took place at The Raven Hotel in the village, that the Frenchman came up with the idea of reviving the Olympic Games.

The Much Wenlock Games are still held annually over four days in the second week of July.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), visited Much Wenlock in 1994 and laid a wreath at Brookes' grave.

"I came to pay homage and tribute to Dr Brookes, who really was the founder of the modern Olympic Games," he said.

Cromarty  said: "The Wenlock Olympian Society, which is run entirely by volunteers, has work so hard to increase public awareness of Wenlock Olympian Games’ significance in the Olympic story, and the work of our founder, William Penny Brookes. 

"Now we feel it’s all been worthwhile.

"Like most of Wenlock, I’m still on a high. 

"It’s such an honour, it’s amazing and it’s daunting.

"So, on behalf of Wenlock Olympic Society, I’d like to say a very humble thank you to LOCOG."

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