I grew up in Aylesbury. We didn’t have a car, so rarely travelled far, but every summer it seemed as though the world came to us. My mum used to take us to see The Wheelchair Games at Stoke Mandeville. Athletes and teams came from all around the world to compete and I remember the colours of flags. I hadn’t heard of all the countries and always wanted to look on a map when we got home, to see where the teams we had been cheering on had travelled from.

My favourite sport was the wheelchair basketball. It was so fast and action-packed. The first time I saw a player crash and fall I was concerned, but they quickly pulled themselves back into their chair and carried on with the match. It was often tricky to keep up with the ball as a spectator, so I couldn’t understand how the teams kept track and got themselves into the right position to receive the ball.

In those days, the public and athletes all moved around the stadium together. I remember talking with one lady outside the big canteen. She asked if I wanted a ride in her chair and told me to hop onto her lap, so I did. My mum was horrified and told me to get off, as I would hurt the lady. She replied that she had no feeling in her legs, so I couldn’t possibly hurt her. She wheeled me around and then my sister had a turn.

We chatted with that lady quite a lot. She told us her story; both how she became paralysed and how she got into sport, it was fascinating. My memory was that lots of people were friendly. They came from all corners of the world, but most spoke excellent English and they seemed happy to chat.

It is amazing that this event on our doorstep has now become the Paralympics. It’s fantastic that the athletes can now compete on the international stage. This is a heritage that everyone in the town should be proud of.

We lined the streets for the Paralympic torch parade for London 2012 and a few years ago, I took my daughter back to the stadium to watch a wheelchair basketball competition. It was as thrilling as ever!

Catherine Davies