The world’s first Paralympic Heritage Centre is now open at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.
The National Paralympic Heritage Centre is a small museum that tells the story about how the Paralympic movement began in the 1940s at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Initiated by Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, he encouraged wounded veterans to play sport as an aid to rehabilitation from a spinal injury. This led to local competitions, the Stoke Mandeville Games, and to the Paralympic Games, which today attracts international support and a global broadcast audience of more than 4 billion.
The museum displays celebrate the stories of the Paralympians, hospital staff and the local Aylesbury community who played a large part in setting up the early Paralympic Games. Previously held in storage, the tickets, medals, sports kit, photographs and programmes can now be seen by the general public.
Items on display for handling include a goalball, para hockey blade, the latest Ottobock running blade and wheelchairs from the 1950s to the present day.
The heritage centre has been designed to be fully accessible so the displays can be appreciated by all visitors.
- Audio description and BSL are included on all videos and screens;
- braille sheets are included alongside the displays;
- and large print booklets can be collected from the introduction panel.
The centre is accessible for wheelchairs and visitors with guide dogs and there are designated quiet times for visitors who require less distraction.
Throughout the year there are special events planned: family activities, Meet the Paralympians and BSL tours. Tours and talks are available for schools and groups. Please visit the National Paralympic Heritage Centre website for more details and how to book onto a tour or an event.
The local community, who played an integral part in the establishment of the Paralympic movement, continue to help by sharing their stories and volunteering as ambassadors at the National Paralympic Heritage Centre.
The National Paralympic Heritage Centre is also supported by:
- the British Paralympic Association;
- WheelPower – British Wheelchair Sport;
- Aylesbury Vale District Council;
- Buckinghamshire County Council.
It has also had grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund, AIM Biffa Award ‘History Makers’ Programme, Rothschild Foundation, Aylesbury Vale Community Chest, Heart of Bucks and the Wellcome Trust.
By Paralympic Heritage Centre
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