One hundred years after his death, the achievements of Walter Tull, the first man of black heritage to become an officer in the British Army, are to be celebrated in Northampton through a series of commemorative events.
Walter was one of the first black professional footballers who played for Tottenham Hotspurs before being transferred to Northampton Town in 1911 where he made 110 appearances before his career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War One.
The events will begin with a free Centenary Memorial Service in the Guildhall Courtyard on Saturday, March 24, at 1pm. During this service visitors can join Councillor Gareth Eales, the mayor of Northampton in front of the Walter Tull statue as he, the Princess of Wales’s Regiment and members of Walter’s family share a few words and lay wreaths.
Following this service, Walter Tull’s story will be told by his biographer Phil Vasili in the Great Hall.
Talks titled Racism in Football: Historical and Contemporary Issues by Dr Steven Bradbury, Loughborough University and Walter Daniel Tull: Standing on the Shoulder of a Pioneering Giant by Tony Whelan, Manchester United Youth department football coach will also be shared with the audience.
The commemorations continue on Sunday, March 25 with a procession and civic service at All Saints Church.
A commemorative service will take place in All Saints Church at 5pm, with representatives from the football club, the regiment and Walter’s family reading lessons during the evening event.
Finally, Northampton Town Football Club’s Chaplain will lead a short ceremony at 2pm at the Walter Tull Memorial, ahead of a commemorative match against Charlton Athletic on Friday, March 30. Moulton College will also lead a short memorial piece before the games starts at 3pm.
Councillor Gareth Eales, mayor of Northampton, said: “Working with our partners and community groups in the area, we have created a programme of events to commemorate the life of Walter Tull and honour his pioneering spirit.
“Many of us also view him as a local treasure and so I encourage the town to join us at these events to help us mark the centenary anniversary of his death.”
Chairman of Northampton Town Football Club, Kelvin Thomas, added: “As a club, we are very proud of our role in the community of Northampton, we are very proud of our history and we are very proud that Walter Tull was a Cobbler.
"We will be playing a full part in the programme of tributes to remember Walter. Walter was an inspiration to many and it is appropriate the town comes together to remember a great man who left a lasting legacy."
All talks being held on March 24 need to be pre-booked by calling 01604 838110.
Tickets for the commemorative football match can be purchased at www.ntfcdirect.co.uk