Princess Royal to become Patron of Eric Liddell 2024 Centenary Initiative

Left to Right: Claire Ritchie - Chief Operating Officer of The Eric Liddell Community, Amanda Pringle – Chair of the Board of The Eric Liddell Community, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, John MacMillan – Chief Executive Officer of The Eric Liddell Community.

HER Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become the Patron for the Eric Liddell 2024 Centenary Initiative which will mark the centenary of the legendary sportsman’s gold medal win in the 1924 Paris Olympics. 

The appointment was announced by The Eric Liddell Community, an Edinburgh based charity named after the inspirational Scotsman whose short life is remembered and renowned nationally and internationally for his accomplishments in many different ways. These include his excellence as a sportsman but also as an inspirational man who devoted and gave his life in the service of helping others. 

The announcement of Her Royal Highness’ agreement follows her recent visit to The Eric Liddell Community where she met John MacMillan, CEO and his team. The Princess Royal toured the Community’s building meeting many of the people they care for as one of Edinburgh’s few specialist dementia day care facilities and a support service for carers. The building is also used by many other community groups who view the Community as a hub for many activities for all ages. 

In commemoration of her visit, The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque that will be situated in an area that the public will be able to view.  

At the Paris Olympics in 2024, it will mark the centenary of Eric Liddell’s world record breaking victory in the 440 yards at the Paris Olympics of 1924. 

His story was told in the award-winning film ‘Chariots of Fire’ where his religious beliefs meant he would not race on a Sunday, thus missing out on the 100 yards event he was expected to win. Instead, Eric Liddell competed in the (220 yards) sprint where he gained a bronze medal and then completed an epic, world record breaking run in the 440 yards where he won the Olympic gold medal. 

To commemorate the centenary, a key development named the Eric Liddell 2024 Centenary Initiative has been instigated by John MacMillan, CEO of the Edinburgh based charity which carries Eric’s name, to plan and implement a number of high-profile events to mark the centenary, as well as others which will launch in 2024 to provide a lasting legacy of Eric Liddell for future generations.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become the patron of The Eric Liddell 2024 Centenary Initiative and will head up an impressive group of people from the world of business, education, government, sport and other disciplines who have come together to plan the events for 2024, while also working towards safeguarding Eric Liddell’s legacy. 

John MacMillan, CEO of The Eric Liddell Community, said: 

“I am absolutely delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to be Patron of the Eric Liddell 2024 Centenary Initiative.” 

“I was honoured to have the privilege of meeting The Princess Royal and showing her around the Community and some of the services we provide. It is great to know that she supports our 2024 plans and that she will be involved in the future.”  

“Our ties to Eric’s legacy are strong and we are in close touch with his three daughters who live in Canada and his niece Sue who lives in Edinburgh and is one of our patrons of the charity. Our international ties with organisations all over the world that celebrate Eric’s life and legacy have grown and so the idea came to mark the centenary of his legendary win at the Paris Olympics in 1924 at the Paris Olympics in 2024.” 

“We will announce more details as they become available and I can only say that I have been astonished by the calibre and interest of the people who want to be involved in making this happen. “ 

Eric Liddell was famous for many accomplishments in his short life, including his sporting achievements and he was capped for Scottish Rugby seven times and inducted into their Hall of Fame in January this year, the centenary of his first international cap. 

Although from a Scottish family, Eric’s parents were missionaries and he was born in China. He died at the age of 43 of a brain tumour while interned at a Japanese camp during the Second World War. While Eric had sent his wife Florence and their children to safety, he had refused to leave China because he wanted to continue to support and care for the local community. 

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