Ken Baily (1911-1993) - Andy Foot

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Ken Baily (1911-1993)

Ken Baily, England's self-appointed and much loved sporting cheerleader, went just about everywhere in the World for sport supporting our national teams and individuals in many different sporting fields.
Ken Bailey at Dean Court
Many thanks to Joyce Cox for sending in this photo
"A picture of Ken Baily which I took at Bournemouth Football
a long time ago"

At home in Bournemouth he was a frequent sight at AFCB Bournemouth Football matches, and he made sure he was always present at a royal visit to the town.

When Prince Charles attended his first trade union conference, Ken Baily was at the door presenting him with a carnation buttonhole.

I myself can remember as a child in the 1960's, Ken riding around Bournemouth on his bicycle, and if you waved or called to him he'd always give a big grin and would always salute before moving off again

For many years he was listed in the "Guinness Book of Records" for non-stop long distance running in 1939 when Ken Baily, Douglas Brady, John Harris and Noel Griffin went on a relay across the Atlantic. They ran around the decks of the SS Bremen from Southampton to New York, covering 997 miles in 5 and a half days. All this time they were carrying a torch which held a message to President Roosevelt, asking him to announce that the United States would declare war if Germany attacked hoping that this might deter the Germans. Ken himself said later that their appeal fell on deaf ears and they arrived back in England only three days before Hitler invaded Poland and war was declared.

Ken also carried the Olympic torch when the games were held at Wembley in 1948.

For the next 30 years he continued to be a torch-bearer - taking a flame along the Bournemouth promenade to start the annual regatta fireworks. As the years passed there was concern that Ken might not be able to keep up with the younger runners. But he did and his fitness was partly maintained by regular sea-bathing which included a dip on Christmas Day and at midnight on New Year's Eve with the Bournemouth Spartans.

In the 1950's Ken wrote a column for the local Bournemouth Times under the pseudonym "Genevieve" featuring social occasions and national sporting events.

The Bournemouth summer illuminations are still candlelit by the public and on August Wednesday nights right up to the very last years of his life, holiday-makers would be amazed and overjoyed to find themselves collecting their taper from England's most famous cheerleader, Ken Baily, in full costume.

In February 1982, during an England v Australia Rugby match at Twickenham, It was Ken Baily who came to the rescue by covering the streaker Erica Roe with his Union Jack.

In 1993 Ken died of cancer at a nursing home in Bournemouth

I have heard of a documentary film entitled " The World's Greatest Fan", produced in 1991 by Bournemouth and Poole College of Art & Design. If anyone knows how to get hold of this I would love to see it.

If you are looking for more information about Ken Baily visit the Flickr Pages of Alwyn Ladell Kenneth Henry Highett Baily (1911-1993)

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