10th August 2023

An Update from NPHT

Summer is well underway, and it will be Autumn in no time and what an extraordinarily exciting few months we have had! In April we moved into our lovely new offices, giving us a sense of being a truly established organisation, with space enough to do collections cataloguing, scanning and all the other everyday stuff. Vicky, our CEO tells me the team are still excited arriving at the office and making a coffee settling into work in a permanent home.  
Finishing off projects of the last few years alongside kick starting our new 5-year strategy “Becoming Seamlessly Inclusive” has been demanding but rewarding. The 'Stories from Buckinghamshire' project team, led by Fiona, have done an amazing job with outreach to 22 communities across Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, delivering great collaborative events and building a lasting legacy for us.
Diversifying our team with the appointment of 4 fabulous neurodiverse trainees Adam, Ben, Simon, and Thomas, has been a big learning curve despite our experience in this area, and we are indebted to Talkback for their support in transforming our whole recruitment system to make us more inclusive. We have also said goodbye to Susy, our Team Administrator, and wish her well in her new role, we will miss those great TikToks, and welcome Tracey who has taken on the role and whose family was involved in the 1984 Paralympic Games.
It is now two years since we reopened the Heritage Centre after Covid, in our first year we had 20,000 visitors which has risen to over 25,000 this year, a great sign that things have almost returned to normal, though schools are struggling financially to afford coaches to visit, with the cost-of-living crisis, so we are exploring outreach opportunities more.
Finally, we have been nominated with two other local companies for a Bucks Business First Digital Innovation Award, a great achievement in itself, and I congratulate all the team for their vision in this field from across all areas of work.

Tracey, our new Team Administrator

A Spotlight On ... the 75th Anniversary

On Saturday 29th July it was the 75th anniversary of the first sporting competition held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, organised by Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, that led to the birth of the Paralympic Games. It was also the 75th anniversary of the National Health Service. In partnership with the National Spinal Injuries Centre, NHS and WheelPower we put on several events in celebration of Dr Guttmann’s achievement, and also the volunteer efforts from the communities of Buckinghamshire, without whom the Games would never have developed.  It served as an opportunity to thank all the communities who have worked with us as part of the HS2 funded “Stories from Buckinghamshire…” Project. We shared new pop-up displays on the Finmere Show and 1984 Games stories, the former being a crucial local fundraiser for the Games for more than 40 years, and the latter, a key survival turning point of the Games after Dr Guttmann’s death. There was an opportunity to try wheelchair sports, creative workshops, tours, and try archery in 1940s outfits!

Find out more about our Family Fun Day here


What's On... 

Family events and activities for the Summer Holidays. 

Come along and join us in August at the following events:

  • Design your own mascot at the Paralympic Heritage Centre every Thursday 4-5pm.
  • Showcasing all things Paralympic Heritage! at Aylesbury library on Saturday 26th August. As part of Bucks Libraries Summer Reading Challenge, 'Ready, Set, Read!' themed around the power of play, sport, games and physical activity. 
  • Friday fun board games and activities at the Heritage Centre on Friday 25th August 10-12am.

Find out more about these events and have a go at our online activities over the holidays here.

Thursday 14th September, Meet Paralympic fencer Justine Moore at our online lunchtime talk
Join us in listening to Justine's sporting journey to the London 2012 Paralympics.

Saturday 16th September, Paralympic Arts and Crafts at Aylesbury Library
As part of this years Heritage Open Day we have a day of games and crafts to celebrate Paralympic Heritage.

Saturday 30th September 10am-2pm, Sporting Heritage Day at the Paralympic Heritage Centre
Come and see the coat worn by Sir Ian McKellen at the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony before it goes away for some restoration work and a rest in storage.

Sign up to our Meet the Paralympian event

We have had some great events over the past few months. We had a celebration of the ‘Digital Explorations project’ an opportunity for the participants to showcase the virtual gallery and their skills. This work has shaped our future plans and we are delighted to announce that we have another 3 year grant from the Rothschild Foundation, that builds on this work, in particular the need to offer meaningful work placements for young SEND people keen on heritage based careers. There have been workshops, tours, business Meet the Paralympian talks, and the continued development of the monthly drop in board games event. Please do get in touch if you would like to visit in person or virtually.

How it began... Guttmann's determination

Our collections volunteers who come in weekly spend their time going through and recording old documents and objects for the first time, they are constantly uncovering interesting items, lost in time, revealing the history of disability sport in detail. Recently they came across several letters between Dr Guttmann and the then newly formed Sports Council, fighting for disability representation on the Board. As might be expected their negative response was rather condescending but Guttmann never gave up! They finish with a very diplomatic letter from the famous British athletics champion Roger Bannister, showing a small step forward.  Determination as one of the Paralympic values is something Dr Guttmann had in bucketfuls and is still required today.

The history of the early Games trail app

After a year’s development we have the soft launch of our app that can take you on a trail of the Stoke Mandeville area telling the history of the Games. If you want to trial it for us please download it from the link below. It is a fabulous piece of work with audio, written text, images and 3D scans of collection items. Enormous thanks go to Sam Brady, our PhD student who has led on this alongside Bethany and Brant of Experience Heritage who have gone above and beyond, and we thoroughly
recommend them. Find out more about the app

Seamlessly inclusive ... new 5 year strategy kick off

This new programme of work is underway, supported to date by Arts Council England, Rothschild Foundation, Heart of Bucks Community Fund and Art Fund. Our trainees have been appointed, museum and SEND school partners across Buckinghamshire are organised and British Blind Sport are on board. In addition, pilot work placement schemes have been undertaken and detailed plans for a series of virtual galleries to broaden Paralympic stories have been drawn up. We are ready for kick off this September.  

Stories from Buckinghamshire project

This great project has been completed with 22 communities, 22 schools, 22 disabled artists workshops and commissions, 22 Paralympian stories, 6 new displays on different histories, a poetry book, films, new oral histories, many new learning tools and a legacy of resources and network of friends. A huge thank you to all of those involved, to HS2 for funding, and Fiona and our wider team for a remarkable two and a half years and achieving all you set out to do, ensuring stories and the history is shared for generations to come.
Click here to find out more!


We are delighted to welcome new volunteers to our dedicated team. They have already made very valuable contributions to our delivery writing articles for the local paper, researching banners for our pop-up museum, creating trails as well as supporting events and our archive work.

In addition our volunteers have been working very hard across the summer, supporting events and working on the collections cataloguing. Volunteers are a crucial part of our team, not just supporting our work but shaping our strategy and plans. It is through their collections work that new stories are being uncovered. They provide a window into the history, sharing what they find and helping feed the virtual volunteers undertaking research, and providing new names for the oral history volunteers' interview list. The events volunteers help us decide on display changes and new ideas for learning resources. They are not assistants but rather part of the team that keeps us ticking along. 
We are looking for volunteers to join our dedicated team. Are you interested in helping deliver our collections work, learning programme or support our pop-up museum? Please contact [email protected] to find out how you can get involved.

Ben Nevis Climbing Challenge

Support us in our first fundraising challenge, where our 6 climbers will climb the equivalent of Ben Nevis, 28 walls each within 1 hour! Help us raise £1200 to fund our outreach to schools.

Support our challenge

Thank you....

Thank you to our primary funders, Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Rothschild Foundation and HS2 for their support and other recent funders Mitsubishi Corporation, Art Fund, Heart of Bucks Community Foundation, The Roger and Jean Jefcoate Trust, Sporting Heritage, Buckinghamshire Culture, and our founding partners.  

Thank you to Dr Alison Graham, Allan Boardman, Colin Bennett, Monica Vaughan, Lucy Regan (Stephen Bradshaw), Steve Lowe and the Japan Para-Sports Association for their recent donations to the NPHT collections.

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

Support our ongoing work by donating