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The Rothschild Foundation Impact Grant

About the Digital Explorations Project 2020-23

This dynamic new project, funded by the Rothschild Foundation, Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) will play an important role in the building of exciting and engaging digital resources for worldwide access to the work of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, alongside providing a pool of local skilled 3D museum collection photographers. 

Digital Explorations will be delivered in two stages:

Stage 1: The recruitment and free training of participants from local disability focused organisations in the use of 3D photography, sports journalism and history research.

Stage 2: For participants wanting to take it further in a paid capacity, the delivery of the 3D recording of objects from the NPHT collection for an online gallery and training of young disabled and non disabled people in schools workshops. 

At the end of this project we will have a collection of 3D objects which we will share on the website. Below is an example of 3D photography of an object from the Paralympic heritage collection created by Vicky Hope Walker, NPHT CEO, after just a few hours of training:

Simon's blog

Head and shoulders shot of Simon Stiel, participant on the 3D Digital Explorations Project

Project participant, Simon Stiel, shares his monthly reflections.

Why I joined the 3D Digital Exploration project

When it was announced that London would be hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I wasn't enthusiastic about the news. Aside from spending a lot of money and drastically changing the East End of London for several weeks of sport, why would thousands of spectators want to watch athletes with various forms of disabilities?
In the weeks leading up to the Paralympic Games, I started to read and watch material about the history. The drama 'The Best of Men' starring Eddie Marsan and Rob Brydon was a turning point.

Dr Ludwig Guttmann, an outsider who had lost much when he had to flee Germany was shown challenging and changing his patients about what they could do during and after their treatments at Stoke Mandeville. Poppa knows! became ingrained in my head.

The opening Paralympic ceremony with the adaptation of Ian Drury's Spasticus Autisticus song hooked me and so did Channel Four's coverage of the games during the weeks that followed. When it was time for the closing ceremony, I was sad. 
I had learned a lot during those weeks and when the opportunity for the Paralympic Heritage Trust came up, I was keen. An important point was raised about what is going to be done after the Games. One long-term task to do is to remember the efforts to get the Paralympic Games started, how they have grown and changed.  To ensure that future generations in Buckinghamshire and Britain will learn about them and see that sport can be a powerful means of fulfilment for disabled people. It's an exciting project and at a time when we should have been watching the Tokyo Paralympics, it has been fulfilling.

Visiting the Paralympic Heritage Centre, 25th September 2020

To get to see the exhibits in the flesh at the Paralympic Heritage Centre, Stoke Mandeville Stadium, was good. It showed the extent of the items donated and how people, not just athletes, have been crucial to the evolution of the Paralympic Games.  The hospital itself too hosts important exhibits, future Paralympic athletes may be in the wards at Stoke Mandeville at the moment and be inspired by the exhibits! We also walked through the housing estate that leads to the Stadium which used to be the hospital grounds. Long-term plans are a foot for the Trust and in these challenging times, they'll be interesting.

Meet the Trainers

Black and white image of Rupert Todd, trainer from Ursae    Black and white photo of Ben Ryan, trainer from Ursae

Rupert Todd and Ben Ryan, Ursae Ltd

Our trainers Rupert Todd and Ben Ryan are both award winning designers and craftsmen who specialise in creating unique items, using a mixture of cutting edge technology and traditional making skills. With over 30 years combined experience in Computer Aided Design (CAD), engineering and manufacture, the duo have helped create and deliver projects for a vast range of clients from individuals and Trusts to Royalty. They have produced everything from pieces of jewellery and homeware, to interior design projects and public art installations.

Their work has been exhibited internationally and at the V&A, and examples can be found on permanent display in the National Museum of Wales, and on the site of William Shakespeare’s family home ‘New Place’ in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Since setting up their companies Ursae Ltd and Wax-Masters Ltd in 2013, the pair has also helped train a wide cross section of students and apprentices in both industrial and academic environments; tutoring mainly for Simply Rhino UK and The Goldsmiths’ Company apprenticeship programme. With expert knowledge of software such as Rhino 3D (versions 3,4,5 & 6), Rhino Gold, Rhino CAM, Blender, ZBrush, V-Ray, Arion Render and Grasshopper, they have helped newcomers to these packages feel at ease when learning and developing their skills.

Working with 3D printers, 3D scanners and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) milling machines educationally and within their CAD bureau service, they have helped others acquire the necessary skill set to create high quality files for use within this technological field.

Ben Ryan:

After creating a replica of the first Paralympic medal, for the Guttmann Centres Heritage Museum, it became apparent that some of our technical knowledge and skills set could be usefully for the new Digital Explorations Project.

Rupert Todd:

Being used to delivering industry standard training for both novice and advanced software users we felt we could help give people with mixed abilities some new skills that they may wish to pursue further into a career.

Being able to help capture pieces of sporting history and art is an exciting prospect. Many of the objects we will help the participants of the digital exploration programme scan and capture will be important and iconic items.

Ben Ryan:

To be involved with a project focused around giving people a creative or technical skill/outlet is really important to us. My brother Chris Ryan captains the GB Wheelchair Rugby Squad, and has been fortunate to find his calling through sport. However not everyone is wired in the same way or fortunate enough to be able to do this. The Guttmann centre and the staff at Stoke Mandeville were crucial in his development as an athlete, and for us to be able to give a little something back and help others with perhaps a more creative or technical passion is a great thing to be a part of.

Examples of some of Ryan & Todd’s creations can be found on their company website: www.ursae.com

3D photography training and work programme participant brief

There are still places available on this training programme. If you are disabled and interested in technology, keen to learn new skills and live in Buckinghamshire we would love to hear from you.

This is an exciting opportunity to be trained, for free, in 3D photography in a sports heritage setting to work with the National Paralympic Heritage Trust in creating an online virtual gallery.

For more information please contact Elaine Phiri by email at [email protected] 

About the Rothschild Foundation Impact Grant

The Rothschild Foundation was established in 2010 and allocates £10 million in grant making annually. This sum is shared equally between the preservation of Waddesdon Manor, where the Foundation is based, and grants for wider public benefit.

Lord (Jacob) Rothschild is Chair of the Rothschild Foundation and has been involved extensively in public service and philanthropic support of the arts throughout his lifetime. The Foundation is managed by a board of Trustees, including other members of the Rothschild family, and is run by a small professional staff team. Inspired by Waddesdon’s cultural heritage, the landscaped gardens and farmland of the Waddesdon Estate along with the Rothschild family tradition of support for the local community, the Foundation focuses on policy areas in the arts, the environment and social welfare.

The Foundation’s grant-making within Buckinghamshire supports the local third sector through a small grants programme and strategic philanthropy through higher value grants. There is much connection between the two programmes which are informed by the Foundation’s commitment to work collaboratively to increase access to opportunity within Buckinghamshire.

For more information about the Rothschild Foundation please contact [email protected] 

About the National Paralympic Heritage Trust

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) are mapping, conserving and making accessible to national audiences, collections and archives relating to the British Paralympic story. In 2019 the NPHT opened a permanent Heritage Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the Birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, and are delivering temporary national exhibitions and a virtual museum. The main Trust partners are the British Paralympic Association (BPA), WheelPower and Buckinghamshire Council (BC).