Memories of the Yuri Gagarin Visit – July 1961

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Anna Grayson

My late brother met Yuri Gagarin during his visit to Britain. I remember it very well. Richard was at Highgate School at the time, aged about 15. Gagarin was visiting Marx's tomb in Highgate Cemetry. Richard took time out from school (I am sure unoffcially) to sieze the opportunity to meet Gagarin. I understand that Richard shook the cosmonaut's hand. One of Gagarin's aides was so amused by Richard's pluck, that he handed him a book. It was in Russian so no one in the family could read it.

My father, Harry Grayson, had been one of the Radar boffins during the war, and indeed his work was still secret at that time. I remember him being rather quiet when told about the incident, but telling Richard to treasure the book.

Gagarin was a great hero to all of us, I remember buying myself a quarter pound of "Rhubarb and Custard" sweets to celebrate his safe return to Earth. 

Richard Grayson (back row, third from right next to his twin brother, Paul, centre) at Highgate School. Click on photo to see larger image.


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