Wednesday 19th April 2023

Celebration of the Digital Explorations Project

An online exhibition that showcases objects from the National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) collection, including mascots, clothing, and sports equipment, are brought together in a ground-breaking 3D Virtual Museum, that launches today at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

The Digital Explorations Celebration & Virtual Museum featuring the Paralympic Heritage Collection, forms part of the Digital Exploration Project, funded by the Rothschild Foundation and National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from the Heart of Bucks.  It is the culmination of three-years’ work, bringing together a number of paralympic objects that have been curated and scanned by participants from local disability organisations across the region.

Between 2019 and 2023, 17 disabled participants were recruited from across Buckinghamshire’s disability and employment support charities.  They received professional training and work experience in historical research and cataloguing, digital 3D scanning, photogrammetry and editing.  Participants have created a collection of over 65 objects to view on the Sketchfab platform and on the NPHT website.  The collection includes several artefacts from other museums, items from students at Pebble Brook School, as well as artefacts from the National Paralympic Heritage Trusts’ own collection. Twenty of these objects have been chosen to be showcased in the 3D Virtual Museum.

Leona Forsyth, Senior Grants Manager, Rothschild Foundation, said: 

We are proud to support NPHT’s Digital Exploration project, preserving and sharing their inspirational Paralympic heritage of international significance, through the digital innovation of 3D models and exhibitions, promoting wider access for disabled people, young people and researchers. This work is also helping build a local cultural sector that is inclusive, vibrant and resilient. The team’s personal approach and dedication to meeting individual needs through mentoring and training is developing the life-skills and improving the quality of life and wellbeing of disabled participants, while helping build a more diverse, representative heritage workforce locally.

Some of the participants have gone on to take paid roles as Digital Explorations Project Assistants, sharing their new skills with students in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Schools.  The launch today is a celebration of both the heritage collection and the fantastic work of the students at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

Caroline Peal, a Routes to Work project worker at  Oasis Partnership, one of the local employment charities involved in the project, said: 

Those of my clients who have taken part in the project have been inspired and enthusiastic about the experience.  It has been beneficial in supporting them gain skills and confidence for employment.  It helped one of them move on from a loss of confidence due to being made redundant. Another flourished in the project and gained confidence even when they were struggling to find a paid role.  Elements of the Paralympic story make it a particularly relevant focus for building skills and confidence as part of an employment support project as it incorporates -  inspiration; overcoming challenges; dealing with setbacks and getting round problems;  the importance of determination, dedication, focus and hard work.

 Vicky Hope-Walker, CEO, NHPT, said: 

We are absolutely delighted to be able to share the launch of the Digital Explorations Celebration & Virtual Museum today.  Bringing to life the Paralympic heritage and stories of human endeavour through an archive and collection of national and international, together with the creation of a website that enables people access to this unique and inspiring resource, are important parts of our strategy.  Bringing together 3D technology and the painstakingly detailed work of our Digital Explorations Project Assistants, coupled with the fantastic financial support of our funders, and in particular the Rothschild Foundation, has allowed us to create this fantastic resource to help us realise our further ambitions of helping people to be inspired, keen to learn more and motivated to try new things.

Personal stories from some of the participants involved in the Digital Exploration Project can be found here.

Click here to view the Digital Explorations Museum celebrating the Paralympics in 3D objects.

Photos from the launch


Project participants explaining how the 3D digital scanning and photogrammetry works.

Speeches from the day. Top: Maddy Baskerville with Simon, Ben, Katie and Pete from the Project Team.
Bottom left: Leona Forsyth from the Rothschild Foundation. Bottom right: Keith McMahon from Venue View.



NPHT Chairman Nigel Purse and CEO Vicky Hope-Walker handing out certificates to
the Project Team and students involved in the project from Pebble Brook school.

Launch of the 3D Virtual Museum