3rd April 2023

An Update from NPHT

It is finally spring, after a long winter the Trust will shortly be entering its next five year strategy, alongside celebrating the 4th birthday of the Heritage Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, a time to reflect as well as be excited about our next phase of work.
We are drawing to the end of our National Heritage Lottery Fund Grant 2017-2023, that has enabled us to get up and running as a Trust, cherishing and sharing the Paralympic heritage as promised. Amazingly, and despite Covid, that shut the heritage centre and restricted collections cataloguing work for 18 months, we have met almost all our targets, in many cases overachieving.
Over half a million, 601,339 people have engaged with our work and most importantly through surveys and focus groups we know that 72% felt that our work had widened their understanding of disability, our core purpose. We can see from the 2022 Survey that 28% of respondents defined themselves as D/deaf or disabled or having a long-term health condition, well above the Office of National Statistics figure for the percentage of disabled people in England & Wales of 18%. A further 9% stated that they were a parent/carer of a D/deaf or disabled child, so we are meeting our audience development ambition. Collections cataloguing resumed with greater energy and volunteer support post Covid, which meant that we have achieved more in the past 20 months than the first 3 years, with over 50% of the many donated items accessioned and 100% in proper conversation boxes. A huge thanks must go to Rosanna Ritchie from Buckinghamshire Archives who has played a crucial role in collections work and has recently moved on to a new exciting job. 
Milton Keynes Museum is currently hosting our regional exhibition, that celebrates 10 years on from London 2012 alongside their rich history of Paralympic and disability sport. Do make the time to go and see this exhibition and the fantastic new stories they have uncovered.

A Spotlight On ... the DICE Club

On January 12th we held the first ever DICE Club breakfast meeting at the stadium. DICE Club is for businesses looking to improve their equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace through working with NPHT. The breakfast meetings are a chance to network with other businesses but also to listen to a Paralympian tell their story. Helene Raynsford (Gold Medal, Rowing, Beijing 2008) delivered a fascinating presentation about her experiences as a top athlete and also her life after competing. We also took the opportunity to welcome the first signed up member of DICE Club – Bucks Business First (BBF). BBF is an organisation that promotes and supports businesses in Buckinghamshire, so a great way to start the club.

The date of the next DICE Club breakfast is Thursday 15th June. Tickets will go on sale after Easter.

What's On...

From now until the end of May, Paralympic Heritage: Stories from Milton Keynes. Visit our regional exhibition at Milton Keynes Museum to learn more about local and national Paralympians by exploring these wonderful displays.
Tuesday 4th April at 13:00-13:45, Meet Paralympic Athlete Hannah Cockcroft OBE. Virtual lunchtime talk. Inspire the team around you by listening to Hannah, one of the most successful Paralympians of our time.
Family activities for the Easter Holidays. You can join in with our online activities over the holidays here. Keep an eye out for our exciting new trail launched during the Easter holidays.

We've had some great events in March with 2500 children attending our schools Meet the Paralympian event with Hannah Cockroft OBE, celebrating the 4th Anniversary of the Heritage Centre with coffee and cake, and our monthly Friday Fun Board Games. Thank you to all who attended. We also welcomed schools, Scouts, Cubs, Men's shed and other community groups for tours around the Heritage Centre. Please do get in touch if you would like to visit in person or virtually at [email protected]

How it began... Old places, new discoveries

With a new phase of work about to begin for the Trust it seems apt that we are moving into a new historic office. One of the old Dutch Houses, which was built to house athletes at the early Games, will become our new workspace. To get the work underway we went in to clear out what was thought to be only junk and in some old metal cupboards treasure came to light. Within them we found Dr Guttmann’s personal mug and a cap made for him just a year before his death. In addition were notes on the early Games, many old sports cups and all the original reel to reel films. Somehow they had been forgotten but can now take pride of place in our collections.

Stories from Finmere

Steve Katon’s blog looks at the huge local influence Finmere and the Aylesbury Vale community had on the history of the Paralympic movement. In this first blog Steve tells us about the first Finmere Horse Show and how it came to be. The amazing support it had from the local community and from famous names in the horse jumping and racing world. Making it one of the largest shows in the country.
Read Steve’s blog here

Dr Guttmann receiving a cheque from The Finmere Show committee

The Rothschild Project 

This ground breaking project, training disabled people in 3D scanning and curation, is now nearing its end with a planned launch of the 3D Paralympic Heritage Gallery due to take place on the 19th April. Viewing this beautiful 3D space, superior to the  standard online 2D image and film galleries, and listening to the participants talk about themselves and their role as curators is very moving for us. They have all been on personal journeys, learnt a multitude of new skills, made friends, engaged young people in new ways and taught us about how to be more accessible within our workforce. And it is fair to credit them with the legacy the Arts Council grant provides which will include the creation of three neurodiverse traineeships. Find out more about the project here.

Stories from Buckinghamshire Project 

This project continues to bring people together through collaborative engagement which celebrates the impact that community spirit can have on achieving a shared vision.  The effect that one community had on the lives of many Paralympic hopefuls was celebrated by the Finmere Community who shared their stories of fundraising and friendship at the Finmere Horse Show which ran from 1960 to 2015. The fundraising supported the Paraplegic Sports Fund at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where Dr Guttmann invested in British teams of Paralympians who qualified to compete in the Paralympic Games. A short film celebrating the work of the Finmere community will soon be available to view on the website. Click here to find out more!


Our volunteers have been busy supporting handling tables at the Heritage Centre and facilitating school visits. We have had growing interest from local Scout groups who visit the Heritage Centre to earn their disability badge. A great opportunity to work and engage with young people in the local community. We are delighted to welcome three new volunteers to our volunteer community who will be supporting us with our learning and engagement programme.

We are looking for volunteers to join our dedicated team.
Are you interested in helping deliver our learning programme or support our pop-up museum? Join us at our volunteer open day on Thursday 4th May at 10:00-12:00 to find out about the range of ways in which you can donate your time from engaging visitors with our displays, supporting our learning and engagement programme, researching for the website through to working on our collections.
For more information contact [email protected]

Thank you....

Thank you to our primary funders, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Rothschild Foundation and HS2 for their support and flexibility to our changing delivery needs.

Thank you to Arts Council England for appointing us as a National Portfolio Organisation and becoming the first key funder over the next 3 years of our 5 year strategy.

Logo of the Arts Council England

Thank you to our dedicated volunteers for all their tireless work.
Thank you to the Japanese Para Sports Association for their long-term loan of images and marketing materials from the Tokyo 1964 Games.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the NPHT's collection. We have had over 20 personal collections donated in recent months with items ranging from a golden wheelbarrow used in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville, a collection of 21 national dolls given as gifts to the NSIC after the 1984 Games, officials clothing from Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, athletes personal medals and even a small petal that was thrown as confetti in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Paralympic games in 2008! It's really exciting to see how varied our collection is becoming. 

Thank you to all who follow what we are doing and to those who have generously donated.

Support our ongoing work by donating here.