I have been in contact Anne to find out more about Broadstairs and the Chariots of fire connection and am delighted with this reply from Anne Ammundsen.
The story of the Carlton Hotel and how it got its blue plaque!
A local historian, Barrie Wootton, had always been interested in Harold Abrahams, the 1924 Olympic 100 meters Gold winner, and knew that he had stayed at the Carlton Hotel in Broadstairs on his way to the Paris Olympic Games. In 2011, the year before the London Olympic Games, he thought he would see if the Broadstairs and St. Peter’s Town Council would agree to a blue plaque being erected to commemorate the true life story which was depicted in the film, Chariots of Fire.
Life is never quite that simple or easy though, and so by the time Anne Ammundsen, the great-granddaughter of the builder of the hotel, in 1899 (John Teedum May) had arrived to live in Broadstairs in 2013, and had started to research her family history, Barrie was still working away at achieving his goal, which hadn’t materialised by 2012!
Anne joined forces with Barrie and together they worked their way through the provenance of the story (helped in that regard by a film-director friend of Anne’s in Hollywood, who just happened to know Lord Puttnam, the producer of the film, who assured Anne that the story of the athletes staying at the Carlton Hotel was indeed absolutely true, as the letter in the film portrayed). In order to take this one step further Anne contacted the Amateur Athletics Association to see if they knew how to get hold of the original of that very letter.
Enter Mike Fleet! Mike spent a couple of years trying to track down that elusive letter - eventually establishing that it was still with the screenwriter, Colin Welland. He contacted Colin’s family who, sadly, were unable to put their hands on the letter as, by then, Colin Welland was suffering from dementia and soon afterwards died. All these efforts were accepted by Broadstairs and St. Peter’s Town Council as sufficient evidence that the story was, indeed true. The blue plaque was commissioned and installed in 2015.
Getting an official unveiling proved the next hurdle, but once more Mike Fleet came to Anne’s rescue (after the Town Council and the Broadstairs Society abandoned the idea) and this is now arranged for 29th June 2017 - but much more than that - Mike has ensured that it is now also a Re-Enactment of the iconic Beach Run from the film Chariots of Fire - in aid of charity. It is hoped that this will become an annual event on the sands in Broadstairs. Let’s hope it is sufficiently successful to do so! This is where you come in!- to ensure it is a great day out for one and all and one which raises lots of money for the dedicated charities!
For Anne is will be a personal tribute to her Great-Grandfather and Grandfather (together J.T. May & Son) who built the hotel as a place to live and a place to work for two unmarried daughters, Mabel and Ruth May. These ladies were managing the hotel at the time the Olympians stayed there. On 29th June Anne’s daughter, Nina, (the great-great-granddaughter of the builder) will be wearing Ruth’s platinum and diamond ring, most probably worn when the Olympians were at the hotel, and Anne will be wearing the diamond engagement ring of John Teedum’s daughter-in-law, Ellen Elizabeth May. Anne hopes her family will be with her in spirit on the day and looking down proudly on what has been achieved to commemorate an incredible Olympics story which played out, in part, at their hotel.
By Anne Ammundsen