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Kirklees Sporting Heroes - Eileen Fenton

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About Eileen's Story

In 1950 Eileen Fenton was the first woman to finish in the Daily Mail First International Cross-Channel Race. During the race, Eileen had been level with the eventual winner until an arm injury forced her to drop back.

For being the first woman to complete the race Eileen received £1,000, about the price of an average house, from the Daily Mail.

Eileen had trained exceptionally hard, sometimes swimming for ten hours at a time. To get her used to cold water she swam in the sea off the coast of Scarborough. She later said the Channel 'seemed quite warm…after the North Coast'.

The people in her home town of Dewsbury were overjoyed at her Victory. She received a hero's welcome upon her return and the streets thronged with over 20,000 celebrating well wishers.


You can watch a video clip of Eileen talking about her victory and how it felt to be a local hero - just click the link below.

Excerpt from the short film ‘Our Sporting Greats’ made for Kirklees Museums and Galleries by Chris Squire and Andy Wicks of Impossible Theatre (web link below).

Archive footage courtesy of the Pathe.

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