7th December 2018

From modest beginnings in the late 1940s at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann encouraged wounded veterans to play sport as an aid to rehabilitation from spinal injury. This led to local competitions, to the Stoke Mandeville Games and to the Paralympic Games which today attracts national and international public support and interest.

Widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Stoke Mandeville Stadium will become the home of the very first Paralympic Heritage Centre. Opening in March 2019 the Heritage Centre will celebrate and explore this unique status.

This inspirational project wouldn’t be possible without the substantial grant from the AIM Biffa Award ‘History Makers’ Programme; which helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rothschild Foundation, Aylesbury Community Chest and Heart of Bucks.

The displays will feature:

  • The life and work of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann.
  • The history and work of the Spinal Injuries Centre.
  • Key milestones in the journey from the 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games to the present day Paralympic Games.
  • The development of wheelchair sports.
  • Paralympic ceremonies.

But crucial to these displays is the need to interweave the stories of the local community, who worked, volunteered, attended events and fundraised. Without them, without YOU the Paralympics would not have been born. 

If you or a family member have been involved in any way in the Stoke Mandeville Games from the 1940s onwards, we would love to hear your story so that we can share with others about this great history. We are also interested in any memorabilia you might have (tickets, medals, clothing, photos, programmes). 

You can read the local stories we’ve already received on our website. Sally Haynes has shared with us her memories of being involved in the Finmere Horse show, which was established by friends and family from the local riding community to raise funds for the Paraplegic Sports Fund at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. This fund provided transport for the athletes to attend the 1960 Paralympic Games in Rome. Colin Evered describes what it was like for his family to live at Elm Farm and farm the area from the 1940s until 1971. Stoke Mandeville Stadium and track are now built on this farmland. Colin shares his memories of attending the opening of Stoke Mandeville stadium by the Queen in 1969. Perhaps you attended an event as a child, and recall the impact it had on you?

In the early years of the Paralympic Movement the local community came together to support the Stoke Mandeville Games.  If you are able to support us at the Paralympic Heritage Centre by volunteering we would love to hear from you. We will be holding a number of volunteer open days at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in 2019 to tell you more about how you can get involved as Heritage Centre Volunteers, Pop-up Museum Helpers and Paralympic Heritage Ambassadors.  Visit our website for more information.

Katy-Jayne Lintott, NPHT Learning and Engagement Manager says,

Being able to have a permanent space celebrating the history of the Stoke Mandeville Games and Paralympic Movement is wonderful.  We want to invite people in Buckinghamshire to help us tell that story sharing their memories and memorabilia or by volunteering their time.

If you would like to discuss any items or stories you might have, or about volunteering please contact Katy-Jayne Lintott, NPHT Learning and Engagement Manager by email

Our key supporters:

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

Biffa Award

Since 1997, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £165 million to thousands of worthwhile community and environmental projects across the UK. The programme administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund.


Landfill Communities Fund

The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs).  EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 5.3%) against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make.

Since its inception in 1996, over £1.6 billion has been spent on more than 56,000 projects across the UK.  For further information please visit https://www.entrust.org.uk/or see HMRC’s general guide to landfill tax.

Association of Independent Museums

The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) is a national charitable organisation which helps independent and independently spirited museums, galleries and heritage sites prosper by connecting, supporting and representing them.

AIM’s membership ranges from voluntarily run community organisations to some of the largest museums in the country and includes museums, historic houses, heritage organisations, ships and historic railways as well as museum consultants and commercial suppliers.