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Walter Tull portrayed on 'The Hallowed Turf'

ICON: Walter Tull

WALTER TULL, the first black officer in the British Army to be portrayed in powerful new play, touring this year in celebration of Black History Month.

Sport and theatre don’t often mix, although they do in a new play about Walter Tull, the Spurs and Northampton football star who became the first black British combat officer to serve in World War I. Gazebo Theatre’s latest production ‘The Hallowed Turf’, tells the true story of Tull through the eyes of a young unknown soldier who meets his hero on the front line.

The grandson of a slave, Walter Tull became the ultimate role model being only the second black footballer to compete at the top division in the early 20th century. He made history in the army as well as on the pitch. He enlisted in 1914, survived Passchendale and the Battle of the Somme to become the first black officer in the British army in 1917 – a virtually unimaginable achievement at that time - and was singled out for ‘gallantry and coolness’ when leading a risky expedition over a frozen river on the Italian front. He died on the Somme in 1918.

Gazebo’s powerful new play, complemented by a backdrop of original film footage courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, draws on Walter’s experiences to create an inspiring story of bravery and friendship in the midst of the horrors of trench warfare. A national tour of The Hallowed Turf starts this autumn to tie in with black history month and the anniversary of World War I.

Historian and broadcaster Matthew Ward at History Needs You said: ‘'Walter Tull was a great gentleman who rose above abuse and discrimination. He showed the way forward and is an inspirational figure for all. I’m so glad Gazebo Theatre will be sharing his story with so many people across the UK and I look forward to hearing the great man given a voice by Oraine Johnson."

The great niece and nephew of Tull, who has Barbados heritage, will be attending the play at their local theatre Eden Court in Inverness. “As a family we have been glad that Walter has been such an inspiration, and his life story has been used to highlight many important issues.

’Uncle Walter’ was always a hero within the family, and as children we took any opportunity to boast about his football career and the fact that he was the first black officer in the British Army" Pat Justad, (great neice of Walter Tull)

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