Sunshine and Smiles for First-Ever Special Olympics Unified Mile in London!

What do Special Olympics athletes and supporters, Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter OBE and Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah have in common? They all gathered eagerly together at Buckingham Palace for the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Mile in London!
Runners in red t-shirts running towards the camera across a finish line.

As London’s Special Olympics Unified Mile got underway, a group of 420 Special Olympics athletes, family members and supporters from across Great Britain (GB) were given the starting signal by Special Olympics athlete leader, Lyn Dumbleton and Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) Ambassador and well-known actor, Jim Carter. Legendary Olympian Mo Farah was also on hand to inspire the enthusiastic participants as they prepared to run, walk, wheel and skip across the start line.

Lyn Dumbleton Special Olympics GB Athlete Leader standing with Jim Carter Actor (Downton Abbey) and Special Olympics GB Ambassador arm around her; both are holing a flag.
Lyn Dumbleton, athlete leader Special Olympics Great Britain (left) and Jim Carter, actor (Downton Abbey) and supporter of Special Olympics GB at the first ever Special Olympics Unified Mile which took place in London on Sunday 26 May as part of the Vitality Westminster Mile.

Participants included Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, David Evangelista and SOGB CEO Michelle Carney. They couldn’t have asked for better weather than the bright London sunshine or a better setting than the iconic mile-long course from The Mall to Buckingham Palace!

In partnership with London Marathon Events, the Vitality Westminster Mile offered Special Olympics a dedicated time slot or ‘wave’ for our supporters to take part in the Mile, as part of its commitment to highlighting social inclusion as a key message of the event. The Special Olympics Unified Mile was kindly supported by Lions Clubs International.

A man in a red Special Olympics t-shirt smiles to the camera with his arm around a young woman in a white Special Olympics t-shirt.
Jim Carter OBE, Special Olympics Great Britain (GB) Ambassador and Downton Abbey actor, with Kiera Byland, Special Olympics GB champion and Athlete Leader at the first-ever Unified Mile in London on 26 May.

Jim Carter, who is best known for his role as Carson in the award-winning TV drama and highly-anticipated film, Downton Abbey, not only officially started the Unified Mile but also walked the course alongside his friends from Special Olympics GB.

“Special Olympics GB is a wonderful movement helping people with Intellectual Disabilities. It’s a charity very close to my heart and it was an absolute pleasure to be involved. To witness the reaction of the crowds and the faces of everyone taking part at first hand was inspirational and I’m honoured to have been there.”
Jim Carter, actor in the award-winning TV drama and highly-anticipated film, Downton Abbey

Michelle Carney, CEO SOGB added: “Huge thanks to London Marathon Events for giving us this opportunity to be part of this extraordinary day and for all their support in helping to spread the word about our important work. The pride I have for this organisation and our athletes is huge and on a day like today only makes me and the whole SOGB team even more determined to help transform the lives of more people living with an Intellectual disability.”

Apart from the Unified Mile, SOGB presented a range of activities—from football and mini-golf to a Fit 5 stand and Wheel of Fortune—at a dedicated zone throughout the day in the Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park. This buzzing family event was co-hosted by Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM) Ian Harper who interviewed medal-winning athletes fresh from the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi as well as Special Olympics supporters, friends and visitors throughout the day.

Two men with microphones standing in front of trees and pull-up banners in a park.
MCs for the Special Olympics Zone in Green Park as part of the Vitality Wellness Festival, Eddie Latter and Ian Harper, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia. Eddie and Ian entertained crowds together throughout the day following the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Mile.

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