5th August 2021

Welcome from Nigel Purse, NPHT Chairman

Welcome to the ninth edition of our newsletter. We hope this finds you in continued good health, and able to start getting out to enjoy life beyond the four walls of your home or Zoom. I am truly delighted to announce that we were able to reopen our Heritage Centre on the 19th July, Covid-19 safe, with a recommendation of social distance and mask wearing as the health of our visitors, staff and volunteers remains a priority for us.

It has been a very hectic few months, recruiting and inducting new staff and consultants to assist us in the implementation of our new strategy. We have continued with our online events and at the same time have been preparing and working towards reopening. Everything is beginning to settle down and everyone is getting focused on summer activity and the year ahead. The Board of Trustees is proud of the continued achievement of the team and the national recognition for their innovation in access and digital work.

We are delighted to receive our first Covid-19 related grant from the Rothschild Foundation which will help us catch up on areas of our ‘Digital Exploration’ project in collaboration with them, including building commercial support of our planned virtual 3D Gallery on the history of the Paralympic Games in 20 objects.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is now upon us and there has been a lot of media interest in the Trust and filming at the Heritage Centre, so keep your eyes peeled for us in the media, and don’t forget to tune into C4 news on the night of 19th August when the Paralympic Heritage Flame lighting takes place at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

About Us

Our Learning Officer Fiona Darling-Glinski and Administrator Amy Coleman have truly settled in after six months with us and are creating some fantastic work around engagement and collections, really pushing forward in both areas.  Elaine Phiri our Operations and Engagement Manager has recently gone on maternity leave and we wish her all the joy of a new baby due in August. We are delighted to announce the appointment of Madalyn Baskerville, who comes with over twenty years museum experience, to take over Elaine’s roll and exciting project work.

We have appointed consultants for several areas of work including Bonner and Hindley for Marketing and PR, Threepipe who have created a social media framework for us and Bright Culture providing important independent evaluation work. Bonner & Hindley and Bright Culture will be working with us over the next twenty months, helping build audiences and meet their needs, as well as developing a plan for the future.

Our wonderful volunteers are happy to be back and busy supporting the cataloguing of collections and learning work. Sadly, a greatly valued volunteer, Shaun Finegan passed away in the Spring. He is missed enormously but leaves us with a wonderful legacy of vlogs and blogs, and research that is so helpful to our tours. We are most grateful to his family who organised for donations to the Trust at his funeral and raised enough to support a brand new ipad to support the learning work which he was so talented at.

NPHT Volunteer, Shaun Finegan, sat on a bench dedicated to his wife.

NPHT Volunteer Shaun Finegan


Since our last newsletter we have hosted several virtual tours for community groups and schools, including specialist ones for hearing and visual impairment. It was fabulous to greet our first school face-to-face in June, reminding us of the value of face-to-face working.  

We have continued with virtual activity with our last two meet the Paralympian events with tennis player Lucy Shuker and rower Naomi Riches reaching audiences of over 1600. Schools have really embraced the technology enabling us to reach far greater numbers than in the Heritage Centre.

Upcoming events

Family Friendly Event Days in August

Tuesday 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st August at 10:00-12:00, FREE, drop-in

Heritage Open Day

Sunday 12th September at 11:00-13:00, FREE, drop-in

Explore the Paralympics: Join in the excitement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Drop in and meet friendly and knowledgeable members of the team and let us bring the Paralympic heritage to life with our handling collection of torches, costume, medals and mascots.  Try your hand at making an origami crane and find out what makes them so special to the Tokyo Paralympics. 

Sporting Heritage Day

As part of our commitment to creating genuinely inclusive learning opportunities we will be hosting a test of the first phase of our pilot sensory needs workshop which is being created in collaboration with Furze Down School and Autism Bucks. See COG Project below for more details.


Alongside caring for our permanent displays at the Heritage Centre and National Spinal Injuries Centre we are beginning work on a regional exhibition at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2022 to celebrate ten years since London 2012 that will help us research longer term plans for permanent displays at the Park. In addition, we are working with Chard Museum, Somerset, to pilot the completely virtual regional exhibition offer, drawing on their wonderful Victorian prosthetic limb collection and local disability sport network. 


Paralympic Heritage: Stories from ….. : This project led by Fiona is now underway and in June we welcomed on board a host of disabled artists from a wide variety of practice to work with us in the 22 schools and communities who have been invited to participate. Three individual projects have now been completed with Year 4 students at Radstone Primary School in Brackley, Year 9 students at Waddesdon Church of England Secondary School and Year 5 students at Great Missenden Combined School. Volunteers Gill Beck and Anita Templar have been involved in sharing their knowledge in recorded assemblies whilst artists Robin Surgeoner, Caroline Cardus and Paulina Porwollik embedded the learning through their perceptive and inspirational workshops and Paralympians Helene Raynsford and Naomi Riches shared their motivating stories and their medals with entranced audiences. Visit our project page here

Paralympic Torch activities from Year 4 students at Radstone Primary School, Brackley

3D Digital Explorations: Project participants were finally able to attend in-person training with the digital 3D scanner which took place over 4 days at the end of June. Amongst the previously uncatalogued items scanned was the bust of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann and this will be shared on our social media leading up to the Tokyo Paralympic Games. A further 5 dates are booked in for August and the beginning of September for other participants to join the training sessions, meaning a total of 7 participants will have been trained in using the equipment. Maddy has been busy searching the collection and identifying suitable items to form part of the digital gallery. We will be looking for more participants to join the project in the autumn, visit here to find out more if you or anyone you know would like to take part.

COG project sensory map and workshop: Provision for people with sensory needs goes far beyond simply creating sensory experiences in a museum.  People who suffer dysregulation because of over or under stimulation cannot be expected to visit a museum or come away with any meaningful learning unless they are provided with the tools to achieve what is called “optimal arousal” and, therefore, be in a ready state for learning.  With the help of students at Furze Down School and volunteers at the NPHT a host of pre-visit material has already been developed and a workshop using the Paralympic Timeline will be tested with a class of students with various sensory needs.  The learning from this test will inform the next steps of the project which is funded by the Buckinghamshire Cultural Outreach Group.

Learning Resources: A host of new STEM resources is being created using the important displays at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  An activity box examining the history of the Spinal Unit and facts and activities explaining spinal injuries is now available for schools visiting the Heritage Centre.  New material has been added to the Recovery Curriculum following the theme of the Paralympic medal.  Resources suitable for students from key stage 1 to key stage 4 have been created and the resources include a widgit sheet.  These activities, which include material from our virtual museum, are ideal for schools who will be returning to school during the final days of the Summer Paralympic Games.

Meeting Point: After presenting an outline of our work and vision for a meaningful commission to over 50 artists selected by Arts and Heritage who facilitate Meeting Point, our panel, made up of staff, a volunteer and a Trustee will be reading through the Expressions of Interest and shortlisting up to 4 artists for the final stages of the process.


Google Doodle and stories: We were delighted to be given the opportunity to partner with Google who honoured Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann with a Doodle on Saturday 3rd July. Alongside the Doodle, Beth created several stories on the Google Arts & Culture platform and we will continue to add stories here.

Google Doodle by artist Ashanti Fortson.

Digital engagement: Partnering with Google has meant a huge leap in visitors to our website in July of 22,685 compared to 2531 in June, the majority of which were on the day the Doodle was launched. This also had a significant impact on our social media interaction with an uplift of followers and subscribers.

History and Donations

Amy has set up a great new system for accessioning collections in partnership with Buckinghamshire Archives and Discover Bucks Museum Trust. Five volunteers are trained and now delivering this work on brand new ipads. As there is only limited online access to collections, we are working on sharing a listing of the wider collection to help support research, this will be available for the Autumn. We are also delighted to announce that Buckinghamshire Council is appointing an archivist to specialise in the Paralympic collections work over the next year or two. This has only just been advertised so if you know someone interested do let us know.

Our PhD students have been working hard and Sam Brady’s blogs continue to prove popular, you can read them here. Dawn Newbury has completed her first year and her PhD is confirmed.

Sam Brady's monthly blogs

We have been successful in attracting funding from Section 106 to support further oral history work that will begin this Autumn, with a focus on local stories that we shall share through a trail we are developing. You can listen to our oral histories here


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 in the new world.

Thank you to our volunteers who have continued to support our work despite the personal challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and are now returning to the workplace with us.

Thank you to all who follow what we are doing and to those who have generously donated. If you would like to show your support for our ongoing work please donate here