Legacy of war hero and footballing trailblazer Walter Tull inspires pupils at Invergordon Academy
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ROSS-SHIRE descendants of a footballing star and war hero who overcame countless obstacles in his short life left a group of schoolchildren wanting to know more after chatting to them about his remarkable legacy.
A group of pupils at Invergordon Academy had been learning about Walter Tull from two of his great grand nieces, sisters Pat Justad and Iona Finlayson from Strathpeffer.
Walter was one of English football's first black players and the British Army's first ever black officer to command white troops.
An orphan who had to overcome adversity throughout his life, he excelled at sport as a boy and went on to play for Clapton FC before being spotted by Tottenham Hotspur and playing in front of thousands.
While he was subjected to terrible racial abuse during his playing career, he went on to play more than 100 games for Northampton Town who signed him in 1911. With the outbreak of World War I he joined the army, returning to action after suffering from what was then termed "shell shock" and served on the Italian front after being made an officer.
He was cited for gallantry and coolness after leading 26 men on a night raid against an enemy position, all returning unharmed despite coming under heavy fire.
He was shot and fatally wounded in March 1918, his life commemorated at the Arras Memorial.
His life has since inspired the creation of educational materials and a Lottery-funded initiative that aims to use his story to boost community cohesion and inclusivity.
Pat Justad and Iona Finlayson pupils at Invergordon artefacts from the archive and spoke about Walter’s extraordinary life, raised in a children’s home and recommended for the Military Cross because of his courage and leadership.
One pupil said: “I had a fun time with the ladies because they knew him so well and I want to know more about him.”