Arthur Wakefield

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameArthur William•Wakefield
Used nameArthur•Wakefield
Born13 April 1876 in Kendal, Cumbria, England (GBR)
Died22 February 1949 in Keswick, Cumbria, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain

Biography

Arthur Wakefield was a member of the famous Cumbrian rugby-playing dynasty. His cousin Sir Wavell Wakefield played for England 31 times, and another cousin Roger played for the British Lions. Wakefield’s father William was president of the Wakefield Bank in Kendal.

Wakefield was educated at Sedbergh School and then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a cycling and boxing Blue. He continued his medical studies at the London Hospital before signing up to fight in the South African War 1900-01. Upon returning to the London Hospital, he then spent a year studying at Heidelberg, and also in Edinburgh.

Wakefield then spent some years in Canada, and in 1908 became the medical officer to the Royal National Association for Deep Sea Fisherman in Labrador. At the outbreak of World War I, Wakefield joined the Newfoundland Regiment before transferring to the Royal Army Medical Corps and saw service in France and Belgium. After the War he returned to Canada where he practiced in Québec and later in the United States, at Maine, New York.

With living in Kendal, Wakefield first learned his climbing skills in the Lake District. He also enjoyed climbing in the Rockies during his time in Canada. In 1921 he was invited to join the exploratory expedition to Everest, but work commitments prevented him from going. Wakefield was chosen for the 1922 expedition, however, at the age of 46. Whilst the party’s official medical officer was Tom Longstaff, Wakefield was the more experienced of the two men and carried out most of the medial duties after Longstaff fell ill with respiratory problems.

After the expedition Wakefield settled in Cumbria where he ran his own practice from his home at Skiddaw, near Kendal. He was president of the Fell & Rock Climbing Club and was described as: “One of the Club’s most outstanding, best loved, and greatly distinguished members”. He was also president of the British Alpine Club, and in 2012, Wakefield’s Olympic medal was taken to the summit of Everest by mountaineer Kenton Cool.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1924 Winter Olympics Alpinism GBR Arthur Wakefield
Alpinism, Open (Olympic) Mixed team 1 Gold