John Hulley The first Super-Hero

John Hulley The first Super-Hero


John Hulley The first Super-HeroIt was in 2010 that Robin Baynes MBE, founder of Liverpool Heartbeat Charity, met Rosemary Smith, from Much Wenlock, who related to him the story of the Three Founding Fathers of the Modern Day Olympics, Dr William Penny Brooks, John Hulley and Ernst George Ravenstein.

Robin explains what happened next. “Liverpool Heartbeat was already running the ‘Across Mersey Swim’ and playing a major part in the Sefton Triathlon events, which were firmly established in Merseyside’s sporting calendar, and after hearing of John Hulley’s story everyone involved decided to change the name of these events to the John Hulley Across Mersey Swim (Hulley organised the first Across Mersey swim as part of his Grand Liverpool Olympic festival in 1863) and The John Hulley Sefton Triathlon.”

After talking with Rosemary, Robin was determined to find out more about John Hulley and he was introduced to a family historian named Ray Hulley (no relation to John) who had been researching families bearing the name Hulley. Ray had discovered John’s fascinating story and his connections to the founding of the Modern Day Olympic Games. Although Ray was unable to find a link showing John to be a family relative he still felt that his story should be told and Robin agreed to help Ray get it out to the world.

On pages 44 and 45 of this issue you can read about John Hulley and how he proclaimed the values and benefits of sport being used to help our city’s youngsters live a healthy lifestyle and how he pushed the boundaries to enable him to achieve his goals.

Now, Robin, who lives in Formby, and his friend Tim Quinn, from Southport and for many years an Editor at Marvel Comics, have teamed up to help spread the wonderful story of John Hulley and how this remarkable Victorian gentleman helped to put our city on the world’s sporting map and left us a sporting legacy to be proud of. Robin asked Tim if he would help to create a comic book to commemorate John Hulley and introduce local schoolchildren in particular to Liverpool’s own Victorian super-hero – and Tim readily agreed.

Tim explained, “One day I bumped into Robin, who runs the amazing Merseyside Charity Liverpool Heartbeat. Robin knew that I had worked for Marvel Comics for many years and also that I knew a young lady named Jayne Massey, who was blind and relied on her seeing-eye dog Witney. Jayne had already inspired me to create a brand new super-hero team named The Fab 4000, the idea behind this team being to show that we can all help make the world a better place. You don’t need to be born on Planet Krypton or be bitten by a radio-active spider, just care about your planet and your fellow earthlings.

“What can I tell you about Jayne Massey? To say she is inspirational would be an understatement. The day I met Jayne I heard about the various extraordinary projects she was instigating and working on to help people in need across the globe. Her deeds were in stark contrast to the diabolical actions of various governments at the time who were promoting the building of walls and the raising of borders and barriers to separate race, religion, class, and economic standing in society.

I liked Jayne’s ideas better. She has a quiet, calm, compassionate, and sensible view of our place on this beautiful planet. Despite living with various handicaps, Jayne goes out of her way to support people less advantaged than her. Despite being the target of sustained and pig-ignorant bullying while at school, Jayne has come through a stronger and wiser person. She is currently in the middle of a drama course at one of Liverpool’s colleges, where one of her many aims is to show people that disabilities should not hinder you from enjoying a successful life and career.

Jayne’s moral fibre and zest for life inspired the creation of The FAB 4000, a super-hero team of relatively normal people. In other words, you and me, people who simply share that greatest of super-powers, SUPER-COMPASSION. Jayne has bucket loads of that, which is why she is the leader of The FAB 4000. And, if I’m talking about Jayne, I have to mention her ever-present seeing-eye guide dog, Witney. Move over Krypto! This dog is beyond super! One final thing: Jayne shares a similar sense of humour with Robin. She sees the funny side in just about everything. I like that. Both Robin and Jayne are great examples of how we can all help create change for the better on our dear old planet. They are two individuals who just shine on – like the moon and the stars and the sun. Forces of nature both!

“Robin had come up with a great idea. He felt that everybody should know of John Hulley and his idea was to send the FAB 4000 back in time to get the full story on Liverpool’s very first super-hero. I spoke to with my friend Russ Leach, who lives in Essex and is a great designer, and he agreed to produce the artwork for the comic, which he did brilliantly. The more I discovered about John Hulley the more inspired I became. He was very theatrical man, in the way he looked and acted, and I thought “This man was a real star” Now, through this comic book, we are bringing him back to life. I put the script together and sent it to Russ and we soon got these wonderful pencil drawings back – and John Hulley’s comic book came to life.

“John Hulley’s story, which is now available through the comic book ready to be put in your hands, is so relevant today, as we are striving to get our present younger generation to grow up leading a healthy lifestyle and Robin, Jayne and I hope that this man’s inspirational story will help with this aim.”

Robin is also currently working on raising funds to have a statue unveiled in Liverpool in honour of John Hulley and in the next issue of My Planet Liverpool we will bring you an update on how his efforts are proceeding.


The John Hulley ‘First (Liverpool) Super▪Hero’ comic book is available now from the website of Liverpool Heartbeat Charity:

There is no cover price for the comic but the suggested donation to receive a copy is £2 (larger donations are very welcome) and all profits will be donated to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Schools and teachers who would like to let their pupils know more about the John Hulley story are invited to contact Robin or Tim via the Liverpool Heartbeat website and Tim said, “It would be great to be able to introduce as many young people as possible to Liverpool’s first superhero.”