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Roger Bannister and Kennington
Sylvia Vetta
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In 2013 I had the pleasure of driving Sir Roger around Kennington on his first visit to our village.  He had come to open the KOA Bagley Wood Fun Run.  How did that happen?

For 10 years I wrote the castaway series in Oxfordshire Limited Edition. I enjoyed the privilege of sending inspirational people to my mythical island of Oxtopia. So when I got to know Moyra Bannister,  I had to ask if I could cast them away, didn't I?  Many years had passed since Sir Roger had given an interview so I was privileged when he agreed.  Another good fortune was interviewing Moyra and Roger together.  Because of her less scientific reaction to some of his stories, I was able to write a previously untold story. It concerned how he experimented on himself when engaged in research as to why British soldiers were dying of heat-disease in Aden. If you would like to read their story which was published in 2011, go click here.

During the interview I learnt how proud they were of their children. I was particularly intrigued by their daughter Charlotte and made a mental note to see that I should   also send her to Oxtopia. During my interview with Charlotte I learned of her involvement with the Children’s Radio Foundation. (CRF)  I was impressed by how they work and suggested that they send a project for KOA to consider funding.  In 2013 KOA voted to fund  a new‘radio station' in Tanzania.

In addition via another funding source we hoped that 6 students from Matthew Arnold School would be trained as radio reporters and go out to Tanzania when the KOA station was set up. In the event the school only came up with three names so the other three students were from Magdalen College School. But Naiha Masir from Kennington was one of them and the students showed a film they made of their experience and Naiha also took part in the band waves concert.

Once CRF was KOA’s chosen project, Charlotte and I discussed whether Sir Roger could open the Fun Run despite him having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In the event, he not only gave an inspiration opening speech but he invited the winners to tea.  An occasion they will never forget! 

KOA raised 26,313 for CRF. Click on the map of Tanzania on  the CRF website  to see what our investment  has  achieved.