1947-2018
Collection donated to the NPHT

Yvonne Matts with her husband and coach Peter, torchbearers at London 2012

Yvonne with her husband and coach, Peter. Torchbearers at London 2012

Yvonne Hawtin was born and lived most of her life in Coventry. She began life as a dancer but following a car accident in March 1966 she suffered a severe spinal injury, spending a year at the Princess Spinal Unit in Sheffield. Yvonne known as Eve to her family was never to walk again.

She attended a Stoke Mandeville Games, and this she said transformed her life providing a real turning point. Her first sports were archery and shooting but she became increasingly interested in bowls. As a result of participating in the Interspinal Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium she joined the Rugby Thornfield Bowling Club, who were ultimately responsible for making her into a successful athlete. Her first Paralympic Games were in Arnhem in 1980 where she came back with two silver medals. She went on to compete in many Games and her impressive collection of medals now forms part of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust’s growing collection. Yvonne retired from competitions in 1992 but kept on playing bowls for many years.

Yvonne Matts medals  Yvonne Matts GB Paralympic jackets

Yvonne's medals and GB jackets

Yvonne was an inspiration to her family and the people of Coventry, celebrated within her community as well as in the international sports world. As a guest of honour at the opening of a store in Coventry she met the famous boxer Muhammad Ali. He asked to talk to her and her husband, coach Peter Matts,  after opening the store and they became life long friends talking every Sunday by phone, up until Muhammad Ali developed Parkinsons disease. He even invited them to stay with him for the Los Angeles 1984 Paralympic Games, but the Games had not been properly planned and had to be relocated to Stoke Mandeville and New York.

Her Paralympic Games medals were:

Arnhem 1980 – 2 Silvers for Women’s Pairs and Women’s Singles

Stoke Mandeville and New York 1984 – 2 Silver for Mixed Pairs Paraplegic and Women’s Pairs Paraplegic, 1 Gold for Women’s Singles Paraplegic

Yvonne lived life to the full and continued her love of dancing, with her husband Peter spinning her chair, as well as enjoying a slow dance sat on her lap.

Yvonne’s inspiring story is one of many being collected by the National Paralympic Heritage Trust and we are grateful to her family for their general donation of objects and stories. Some of Yvonne’s collection will feature in the new Heritage Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium planned to open at the end of March 2019.

Yvonne’s full medal achievement:

Year

Competition

Singles

Doubles

Team Event

1979

Internationals

Bronze

Gold

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Trophy Winner

1980

Olympics for the disabled (Arnhem)

Silver

Silver

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

1981

Internationals

Gold

Gold

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Runners up

1982

Internationals

Silver

Gold

 

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

1983

Internationals

Silver

Silver

 

 

Nationals

Gold

(Not held)

 

1984

Olympics (International games for the disabled) Stoke Mandeville

Gold

Silver

Mixed Pairs - Silver

 

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

1985

Internationals

Bronze

Gold

 

 

Nationals

Silver

Silver

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Runners up

1986

South African Opens

Silver

 

 

 

Internationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Trophy Winner

1987

Internationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Bronze

1988

Seoul Paralympics

 

 

 

 

Nationals

Silver

Gold

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Runners up

1989

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Internationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Runners up

1990

World Internationals Australia

Gold

Gold

 

 

Nationals

Gold

Gold

 

 

Internationals

Gold

Gold

 

1991

Nationals

Bronze

Silver

 

 

Internationals

Gold

Bronze

Mixed Pairs - Gold

 

1992

Nationals

Gold

Bronze

 

 

Home Internationals

 

 

Trophy Winner

For more information about Yvonne Matts née Hawtin, visit the Paralympic athletes page here