Without the inspiration provided by a medieval market town in Shropshire, the modern-day Olympic Games may never have happened.
Much Wenlock has been staging the Wenlock Olympian Games since 1850.
The games were the brainchild of Dr William Penny Brookes, originally designed “to promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock”.
A visit to the town’s sporting events led the founder of the modern Olympic movement Baron de Coubertin to create the modern Olympic Games.
And now a Shropshire firm, based just down the road from the birthplace of today’s games, will be making its own bit of Olympic history.
Telford toy company Golden Bear is producing the mascots for the London 2012 Games, Wenlock and Mandeville – a contract it predicts triple its turnover between now and 2012.
A limited first edition toy of the London 2012 Wenlock mascot, made by the company, sold out within days of its release earlier this year.
The one-eyed figures’ names honour the West Midlands roots of the Olympic Games, along with the Buckinghamshire town of Stoke Mandeville whose spinal injuries hospital is famed for creating the Paralympic movement.
The mascots, which will be made in China, are estimated to boost Golden Bear’s sales by £20 million and create local distribution jobs in Shropshire.
The firm’s licence for the 2012 Games will see the company manufacture a range of gift products including key rings, mobile phone charms, collectable figurines, car mascots, backpacks and tote bags.
Golden Bear operates from a five-acre site in Shropshire which houses its warehouse and distribution facility and it also has a Hong Kong office which co-ordinates its manufacturing activities.
It has a history of producing sporting memorabilia, including the mascots for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 2008 games in Beijing.