Cricket legend Rachael featured in new book of people who shaped Britain

Women’s cricket pioneer Rachael Heyhoe Flint and West Midland businesswoman Manjit Wolstenholme are among the latest luminaries to be added to an influential book about the people who have shaped British history.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint
Rachael Heyhoe Flint

The pair, both from Wolverhampton, join Sir Roger Moore, Lord Snowdon and Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond as the latest additions to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The book contains 64,071 biographies of the most significant, influential or notorious figures who shaped British history, written by more than 14,000 different contributors.

The latest update, released today( sees an extra 241 personalities added to the dictionary, all of whom died during 2017.

The book describes Heyhoe Flint, who was made a life peer in 2011, as possibly the most influential figure of in women’s cricket of all time.

Born in Tettenhall in 1939, she was the daughter of PE teachers Roma Crocker and Geoffrey Heyhoe who both worked in schools in Wolverhampton.

Educated at Wolverhampton Girls’ High School and Dartford College of Physical Education, she followed in her parent’s footsteps by becoming a PE teacher at Wolverhampton Grammar School.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint in action

She combined this with playing both cricket and hockey for the England women’s teams, before becoming sports editor of the Express & Star’s sister paper, the Wolverhampton Chronicle, in the 1960s.

In 1963 she became the first woman to hit a six in a test match, while playing against Australia at the Oval.

In 1966 she was appointed captain of the cricket team, a post she held until 1978, leading the team to victory in the 1973 World Cup.

She married former Warwickshire cricketer Derrick Flint in 1971.

In 1999 she also broke new ground as the first female member of the MCC after applying under the name R Flint. Initially, club officials assumed she was a man, but agreed to admit her after holding two separate referendums about a change of rules.

A tireless advocate of women’s cricket, she became friends with Sir Jack Hayward in 1971 after asking him for £40,000 to host the first Women’s World Cup tournament.

When Sir Jack bought Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1990, she was appointed to look after public relations.

Seven years later she was made a director of the club, later becoming its vice-president.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint

Among her many other accolades, she served as President of the Lady Taverners from 2001 to 2011 and also as a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

She was appointed an MBE in 1972, which was upgraded to an OBE in the 2008 New Year’s honours list. In 2010 she became the first woman to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

She was also granted the freedom of the City of Wolverhampton in 2011.

She was also a single-figure handicap golfer, and played hockey, squash and golf for Staffordshire.

Other prominent figures to make it into the new edition of the book include former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness. The former IRA leader found himself in government with his long-time nemesis Ian Paisley following the Good Friday peace agreement in 1997.

Gordon Wilson, the former leader of the Scottish National Party is also included, along with former first minister of Wales and Labour politician Rhodri Morgan.

Actress Rosemary Leach, showgirl Christine Keeler who found herself at the heart of the Profumo affair, and Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter also make the book.

Nobel prize-winner Oliver Smithies and journalist Clare Hollingworth, who broke the news of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, are also featured for the first time.

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