Duncan Edwards' third cousin gets Phd for study on his life
A descendant of Black Country football icon Duncan Edwards has been awarded a PhD after conducting a seven-year study into her famous relative.
Gayle Rogers did not have to look too far for the subject of her thesis, deciding she wanted to investigate how Duncan had been commemorated in the six decades since his death following the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.
Having heard stories about the former Manchester United great during her childhood from her mother, who knew and grew up with him, she set out to document the impact of his death.
Stories include a frustrated Duncan smashing a cricket racket owned by his uncle Colin during a match in Dudley.
Gayle, who, like her third cousin Duncan, grew up in Dudley, undertook seven years of research which took her across the UK as she interviewed several members of the Edwards family, including some who had never spoken publicly about the footballer before, and United fans.
And her work as attracted plenty of attention. She has been invited to speak at conferences in Norway, Prague and most recently at the international Football Collective conference at Limerick University in Ireland.
The 49-year-old received her PhD from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston on December 5.
Gayle, an artist and gallery manager who now lives in Wales, said: "My PhD is inspired by Duncan Edwards but it specifically considers how he has been commemorated over nearly 60 years.
"There have been many books and films documenting Duncan and the disaster but until my study there has been very little on the commemorative practices surrounding the event and those affected by it.
"I interviewed several Edwards family members as part of my study, specifically seeking out those who have not spoken about him outside of the family before - mostly first and second cousins related to Duncan's father Gladstone Edwards.
"I've also interviewed super fans including people who make regular pilgrimages to Edwards' grave and statue and even those who have named their children Duncan Edwards in tribute to him.
"My thesis includes new findings and unique data which will be used by other researchers and academics in their work. I'm very privileged to have been able to develop such a personal body of work drawn from my own ancestry. I hope to inspire others to explore Duncan's legacy but also to inspire others to fulfil their own academic ambitions.
"I'm grateful to my family and friends who have supported me in my study and I hope I have added to the knowledge and understanding of how Duncan has touched and changed so many people's lives - including my own."