The world’s first Paralympic Heritage Centre is now open at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.

The National Paralympic Heritage Centre is a small museum which tells the story about how the Paralympic Movement began in the 1940s at Stoke Mandeville Hospital by Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann who encouraged wounded veterans to play sport as an aid to rehabilitation from spinal injury. This led to local competitions, the Stoke Mandeville Games and to the Paralympic Games which today attracts international support and a global broadcast audience of more than 4 billion.

The museum displays celebrate the stories of the Paralympians, hospital staff and the local Aylesbury community who played a large part in setting up the early Games. Previously held in storage the tickets, medals, sports kit, photographs and programmes can now be seen by the general public.

Eva Loeffler, daughter of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, said

Congratulations on the wonderful display you have produced. It is a superb tribute and tells the story perfectly.

Items on display for handling include a goalball, para hockey blade, the latest Ottobock running blade and wheelchairs from the 1950s to the present day.

Clare Newman, PR Executive at Ottobock running blades, said

The exhibition is wonderful – the interactive features with the touch screens, especially for the racing wheelchairs display, was particularly informative. Ottobock has been a proud technical partner of the Paralympics for more than 30 years so to be a part of this exhibition, with our running blade as part of the display, is a real honour.

The heritage centre has been designed to be fully accessible so the displays can be appreciated by all visitors. Audio description and BSL are included on all videos and screens; braille sheets are included alongside the displays and large print booklets can be collected from the introduction panel. The centre is accessible for wheelchairs and visitors with guide dogs and there are designated quiet times for visitors who require less distraction.

The Paralympic Heritage Centre is open daily, admission is free and all are welcome. For more information about opening times, group tours and upcoming activities visit our event page or contact us at [email protected]

Mum and young daughter visiting the Heritage Centre Child watching and listening using headphones Paralympic heritage films