Rugby ‘missed its chance’ to boost tourism with 100th anniversary of Rupert Brooke’s death

Members of the community gathered at the statue in Regent Street
Members of the community gathered at the statue in Regent Street
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A businessman said Rugby missed the chance of boosting tourism by not trumpeting its connections with poet Rupert Brooke on the 100th anniversary of his death on St George’s Day.

Simon Ainley, who with his wife Sue runs Garden Gate Flowers, Regent Street, by the statue to Brooke, said he saw no sign that Rugby Borough Council would mark the anniversary there, so he organised one on April 23. In partnership with Rugby School and Rugby Theatre, there was an evening of readings and a narration of the First World War poet’s life.

This town is steeped in fascinating history, character and architecture

Simon Ainley

Respects were also paid to Brooke’s memory at the statue in Jubilee Gardens with the Last Post played and the evening ended with a reading of Brooke’s most famous poem, The Soldier.

Mr Ainley said: “To ignore the centenary of his death was a missed opportunity. Brooke’s work is known and admired in many parts of the world.

“A Greek man living in Birmingham travelled to Rugby especially and came into the shop for a flower to place on the statue. He said commemorating Rupert Brooke is a big thing in Greece.

“This town is steeped in fascinating history, character and architecture that should be celebrated and could become more of a tourist attraction.

“I would urge the people who make the decisions to give a bit of thought on making the most of Rugby’s offering and build a tourist industry here.”

Brooke was born in Rugby on August 3, 1887, went to Rugby School, and died aged 27 after developing sepsis from an infected mosquito bite.

He was on his way to take part in the Gallipoli landings in Turkey and is buried on the Greek island of Skyros.

A spokesman for Rugby Borough Council said: “We were pleased to commemorate the centenary of Rupert Brooke’s death by unveiling a very special memorial to armed forces personnel. This includes references to all three military services and also features Brooke’s most famous work, The Soldier.”

The dedication of the Rupert Brooke Memorial Wall at Rainsbrook Cemetery and Crematorium was on April 23.