Funeral of Olympic hero Ken Matthews in Wrexham

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A date has been arranged for the funeral of Olympic hero Ken Matthews MBE who has died at the age of 84.

Mr Matthews, who won the 20k walking race  for Great Britain at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games,  passed away at Wrexham Maelor Hospital after being taken ill at Pendine Park’s Hillbury Care Home.

The service will be held at 1pm on Monday, July 1, at the Methodist Church in Regent Street in Wrexham, followed by a private burial at the Plas Acton cemetery.

Mr Matthews was diagnosed with vascular dementia in August 2016 and moved to live in Hillbury House in January.

He leaves his son, Ian, 52, and three grandchildren, Daniel, 23, Georgia, 21, and Joel, 14.

Son Ian was his dad’s full-time carer until January and he had little choice but to move his dad into Hillbury House as he was no longer able to cope with the demands of looking after him.

Ian said: “Although we were devastated by Dad’s sudden death, we have been deeply touched by the messages of sympathy we have received.

“The fact that Dad was held in such high regard has been the source of great comfort and solace to us during this difficult time.

“As a family, we would like to reiterate our gratitude to the healthcare workers, nurses, doctors and carers at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Hillbury House Care Home for their unstinting professionalism and compassion.

“Dad’s fantastic achievements will never be forgotten and his historic victory in Tokyo will be chronicled in the record books in perpetuity.

“In recent times, dementia tightened its grip on dad and it was slowly robbing him his precious memories.

“While struggled to recall the Tokyo Olympics, he still recognized the medal and enjoyed looking at it.

Mr Matthews grew up in Birmingham and moved to Wrexham after achieving Olympic glory at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, having won. gold at the 1962 European Championships.

He and his late wife, Sheila, moved to Acton Park, Wrexham in 1965 after taking up the offer to become the sports and electrical goods manager at Rogers and Jacksons in Wrexham. He later worked at B.I.C.C until he retired at the age of 62 to look after his wife whose health had deteriorated.

Mr Matthews was made an MBE in the late 1970s following a campaign by Dave Ainsworth and the Race Walking association, of which he was president for the Olympic year 2012.

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton revealed he was popular with other residents and staff.

She said: “We were honoured to be able to provide care for Ken after he moved to live at Hillbury  in January.

“We were greatly saddened when he passed away and our thoughts are with the family.”