Author: Sam Brady, 22nd February 2022

I believe it is vital that we use the archives to shine a light on the people key to the history of disabled sport, beyond the work and achievements of the athletes themselves. The history of disability sport is full of dedicated and passionate individuals, and this extends to those who organised local clubs and events, assisted with the logistics of the Games, and facilitated fundraising and opportunities for athletes. Personally, I feel that understanding the work of these individuals is vital to understanding the broader history of the Paralympics and disabled sport in general. I kept these ideas in mind as myself and the NPHT archive team organised parts of the WheelPower Collection in early January, and I was able to get a better look at some of the items that were previously out of reach. One such item was this trophy of a golden crutch atop a brown, wooden stand. Previously, I hadn’t thought much of the item, and assumed it had been awarded to an athlete or to WheelPower as an organisation. But upon a closer look, being able to read the inscription on the plaque, I saw it had been awarded to a familiar name: Jean Stone.


Two images of the Trophy given to Jean Stone. A golden crutch is affixed to a podium, which is attached to a brown, wooden base. The plaque on the front of the trophy is engraved with the International Paralympic Committee logo, and reads: ‘International Paralympic Committee, Jean Stone, Technical Secretary, For dedicated service 1989-1997.'

From the WheelPower Archive, © WheelPower, Stoke Mandeville Stadium.  

Jean Stone has become a familiar name to me during my time with the collection, as she keeps popping up in various event planning correspondence, meeting minutes and administrative records throughout the WheelPower Collection. Once I was more acquainted with Stone’s work, this visibility was unsurprising. Stone led an accomplished career as a sports administrator, team manager and volunteer, and made a huge impact on British disabled sport as a result.

Stone began her professional work as an occupational therapist at the Thistle Foundation, a rehabilitation charity based in Edinburgh for disabled ex-service men.[i] At Thistle, sport was used for rehabilitative purposes, and Stone travelled with the team to Stoke Mandeville in 1960 so they could try out for the Rome Games, and then the Rome Games themselves later that year as a member of the British Team. Her involvement snowballed after this, becoming Scottish team manager and Secretary of the Scottish Paraplegic Association (SPA) in 1962, as well helping to establish a Scottish branch of the British Sports Association for the Disabled (BSAD) – which eventually became an independent organisation now known as Scottish Disability Sport (SDS).[ii] Stone was interviewed in 2012, in which she said: 

When the patients at Eaton Hall formed the Scottish Paraplegic Association and they were looking for a secretary I went and offered to help. And of course that was a stupid thing to go and say as I ended up as secretary of the SPA for years and years. I think I would have given up much earlier in my career. I remember I was very involved in organising the 1970 Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh and as a result I was given the MBE at the end of that year. I had said I was packing it in after Edinburgh, but after I got that award everyone told me that I couldn’t possibly give up now as that was why I had been given the MBE; so I stayed on. [i]

Continuing her dedication, Stone retired early and moved to Stoke Mandeville in 1984 to assist Joan Scruton and the British Paraplegic Sports Society (now WheelPower) with organising the 1984 Paralympic Games.[i] Working with WheelPower, Stone helped to establish numerous opportunities for disabled people in sport, including the National Junior Games and the Inter Spinal Unit Games, which continue to serve as an introduction to sport for young disabled people and newly paralysed people.[ii] She later served as board member for WheelPower, and was inducted into the WheelPower Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame in 2018.[iii] Clearly, the trophy shown above – awarded due to her eight-year stint as the Technical Secretary for the International Paralympic Committee, in which she helped establish the combined IPC Sports Technical structures – is merely one aspect of a lengthy, accomplished, and dedicated career in disability sport.[iv]

Most interesting to me, however, is that, Stone appears to be the original keeper of the WheelPower archives, having collected the stacks of material I am now engaging with. From what I’ve heard, she was very protective over the records, likely as she wanted to ensure the origins of disabled sport and organisations like WheelPower – alongside her own contributions to this history – were preserved for future generations. Interestingly, one section of the collection I’m working on currently appears to have been her personal collection, largely composed of her personal records and other memorabilia. Unfortunately, I have not been able to really engage with this part of the collection due to access restrictions or time to look through it properly, but I’m certain there are some great materials in this part of the collection.

In the parts of the collection I’ve seen so far, Stone appears regularly. Recently, I found her name dotted across written correspondence regarding anti-doping regulations, and athlete registration forms for the National Wheelchair Championships and Games in the late 1990s.  Previously, I’ve seen her name marked across email records from the early 2000s, written minutes from Executive Council meetings, and sport-level newsletters - which often featured a hand-written note asking the newsletter to be passed onto her. Further, the WheelPower archive also contains records of her passing, in form of newspaper coverage and memorial service programmes, as Stone unfortunately passed away in early 2019, at age 86.

Image on the left is of the newspaper, The Bucks Herald, February 6th 2019. Headline reads: “Sadness at death of Paralympic Pioneer.” Image on the right is of an article from that issue, title of which reads: “Tribute to inspiring WheelPower legend.”

From the WheelPower Archive, © WheelPower, Stoke Mandeville Stadium.  


Memorial service programme for Jean Stone MBE, dated 18th February 2019. The image on the left features a more recent picture of Jean, and the image on the right features a younger picture of Jean.

From the WheelPower Archive, © WheelPower, Stoke Mandeville Stadium. 

Between stacks of correspondence, administrative records and her personal collection, the presence of Jean Stone in the WheelPower Archive cannot be understated, and rightly so. Organisational archives should be able to highlight the work of individuals, especially for those like Stone, who made such an impact on their organisations and fields. In the case of the WheelPower collection, an interesting meta-narrative can be seen, as her work as de facto curator and archivist combines with her presence in the materials to underline how important her role has been in the history of disability sport. Certainly, the work of many of individuals will come out of these archives, but few had such an impact as Jean Stone.

You can read more about Jean Stone's story on our website here

[i] ‘Interview with Jean Stone,’ National Paralympic Heritage Trust, 2012,
[ii] ‘Interview with Jean Stone,’ National Paralympic Heritage Trust, 2012,; Scottish Disability Sport, The First Fifty Years - Foreword, Richard Brickley MBE,; ‘Jean Stone MBE – Scotland has lost its greatest influence in disability sport’, Scottish Disability Sport, 25th January 2019,
[iii] Interview with Jean Stone,’ National Paralympic Heritage Trust, 2012,
[iv] Ibid
[v] ‘Jean Stone MBE: WheelPower loses a legend of disability sport.’ WheelPower, 2019.
[vi] Ibid
[vii] Steve Bailey, ‘Athlete First: A History of the Paralympic Movement’, 2008, John Wiley & Sons. p 105; 'IPC pay tribute to Jean Stone MBE’, International Paralympic Committee, 26th January 2019,