Ian Weightman

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What's the Collective Noun for a group of Wenlock Mascots?

That was the question I jokingly asked, via Twitter, following the launch of the initial range of mascot products for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Tuesday, August 17th at Golden Bear Products Ltd in Telford, Shropshire.

And I'm delighted to say we had an enthusiastic and highly creative response, thanks to much re-tweeting, and the assistance of VisitBritain.

But before announcing the winner (and the word now destined, no doubt, to enter the Olympic record books!), it's probably best to build up a little more tension by taking the time to answer another question first.

Why "Wenlock"?

Because, while gold medals will be handed out in London in 2012 for being Swifter, Higher, Stronger, there is a need to look to the history books - and to the picturesque Shropshire market town of Much Wenlock, 150-miles away - to see who won the very first medals for hurdling, rifle shooting and even tilting.

Shropshire may appear an unlikely place to find the origins of the international Olympic Games, yet it was here, in 1850, that Dr William Penny Brookes first founded the Wenlock Olympian Society. 

Now, 160 years later Much Wenlock's role has also provided the inspiration behind one of the 2012 London Olympic mascots unveiled in a blaze of global publicity.

Brookes studied medicine in London, Paris and Padua before returning to Shropshire to take over his father's medical practice.  Following in the Ancient Greek Olympic tradition of developing the mind and body, he founded The Wenlock Olympian Games, for the promotion of moral, physical and intellectual improvement.

The Olympian Games included Greek classical and country sports like running, quoits, football and cricket, but there was always a competition for juveniles, as well as a fun competition - Blind wheelbarrow racing one year for example, and An old woman's race for a pound of tea, another.  Pageantry was always an important part of the entertainment - including a colourful procession led by a band, followed by the athletes, officials and spectators, and the presentation of medals, prizes and olive crowns to the winners.

One visitor to the 1890 Olympian Games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the acknowledged founder of the international Olympic Games, who later wrote "and of the Olympic Games, which modern Greece has not yet revived, it is not a Greek to whom one is indebted, but rather Dr W. P. Brookes".  And in 1994, as part of the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic movement, the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, came to Much Wenlock "because this is where the modern Olympics started".

Today, visitors to Much Wenlock will find a small display of photographs and memorabilia relating to the Olympian Games in the town's museum, a plaque, and trees planted by The Queen, Baron Pierre de Coubertin and Princess Anne - as well as the 15th century Guildhall where Brookes presided as a magistrate for over forty years.

Visitors can also follow a 2,100-metres Olympian Trail, which starts and finishes at the Much Wenlock Museum.  Specially produced bronze markers in the pavements, and an Olympian Trail leaflet, highlight this route and guide visitors around the town, pointing out all of the sites and historic buildings associated with the story.

Today, the modern international Olympic Games are held every four years.  But the Wenlock Olympian Games still take place every year, during the second week of July.  The 125th Games are scheduled for 2011.

So: that's the history bit!  And now, the answer you have all been waiting for.

What's the collective noun for a group of Wenlock Olympic mascots?

In third place: A Cyclops of Wenlocks, submitted by @hevvyhev

In second place: A Much of Wenlocks, submitted by @IdeasForTheKids

And the winner is:

Why, a Wenflock, of course!

Submitted, quite fittingly, by the Olympic mascots themselves @WenandMan

For further details of the Wenlock Olympian Society, visit www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk.

For all other details about Shropshire, visit www.visitshropshire.com.

To find out more about the 2012 Games Mascots, "Wenlock" and "Mandeville", visit http://www.ourlondon2012.com/mascots/about-us/.

And to purchase any of the soft toy mascots, click on to http://www.shop.london2012.com, where you'll find a veritable Wenflock of them for sale.

Golden Bear's licence for the 2012 Games, meanwhile, will see the Shropshire company manufacture a whole host of gift products including soft toy mascots of all sizes, key rings, charm accessories, collectable figures, 'stick on' mascots and character backpacks.  To follow them on Twitter, click on @GBProducts

OK.  Next question.

What's the collective noun for a group of Mandeville Olympic mascots?

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