Yuri Gagarin was bit of a hero to me while I was growing up. I was only four when he became the first man in space, on April 12th 1961, but I remember the excitement of the grownups and somehow understanding it was a great event and decided, like many other boys my age, that I would be a space man when I grew up. We soon learned to call Russian Space Men Cosmonauts and the Americans, Astronauts
This led to a fascination with space and rockets, fuelled by TV programmes like Lost in Space, Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5. My favourite ice lolly was a Zoom – space rocket inspired shape – that came with space collector cards and my favourite pop record was Telstar by the Tornados.
Gagarin was an international celebrity, helped by his wide, winning smile and handsome good looks. He looked everything a hero should be.
Sadly he died in 1968 when he crashed the MIG 15 training jet that he was flying at the time. You can find out more about Yuri Gagarin at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin.