Press release Wednesday 18th August 2021

Stoke Mandeville hosts the fourth Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony on Thursday 19th August

The rich and exciting Paralympic heritage of Stoke Mandeville is due to be illuminated as part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay, with the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony taking place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on Thursday, 19th August.

Following the London 2012 Paralympic Games where Stoke Mandeville Stadium marked the start of the Paralympic Torch Relay, the Heritage Flame Ceremony has formed a significant part of all Paralympic Flame ceremonies since then. This will be the fourth Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony to take place. 

The torch is designed to depict the shape of a flame. The five flames generated from the petal unite at the centre of the torch, generating even greater brilliance.

Stoke Mandeville is widely regarded as the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympic sport movement, following the pioneering work of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann in his work with spinal injury patients. For this reason the Heritage Flame Ceremony has happened here for each of the Paralympic Games since London 2012.

The event is in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council, the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, WheelPower, and Stoke Mandeville Stadium, as well as the International Paralympic Committee and the British Paralympic Association. The ceremony will welcome Paralympic torch bearers and local community groups as they ignite the Heritage Flame at the start of its virtual journey to Japan. As well as the flame, the event is designed to send messages of good luck to the athletes and hosts of the Games from the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

The flame will then be passed virtually to Tokyo as part of the Paralympic Torch Relays around Japan leading to the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron on 24th August  at the official opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

Part of the ceremony will be broadcast on Channel 4 News at 7PM, but you can also follow the #HeritageFlame hashtag on Instagram or Twitter to stay up to date with the event as it happens.

Vicky Hope-Walker, CEO of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, commented:

This is such an incredibly exciting time for Paralympic sport, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the rich Paralympic history, including Tokyo Paralympic Games 1964, that Buckinghamshire and Stoke Mandeville are a part of. Everyone is thrilled to see the Heritage Flame lighting at Stoke Mandeville, as part of the torch relay. It’s fantastic to know that part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic flame will have been passed virtually from the birthplace of the Paralympics.

Martin McElhatton OBE, Chief Executive of WheelPower, said:

I am very proud of Stoke Mandeville’s unique Paralympic heritage, born from the invaluable work achieved by Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s National Spinal Injuries Centre and at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as the movement grew. WheelPower is excited to be working with Buckinghamshire Council to deliver a fantastic ceremony that encompasses the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games’ values. It’s great to see that, once again, an international spotlight will be shone on the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony recognising Stoke Mandeville’s role in Paralympic history.

Cllr Clive Harriss, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, commented:

It’s fantastic that we are able to recognise and celebrate Buckinghamshire as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement with another Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony… and I’d like to remind everyone to tune in to the highlights of the Ceremony which will be broadcast globally on Channel 4 for us all to enjoy.