Monday 31st January 2022

Welcome from Nigel Purse, NPHT Chairman

Welcome to the 11th edition of our newsletter. We hope you had a good festive break and are settled into the New Year.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games only seems like yesterday and yet in five weeks we have the Heritage Flame Lighting ceremony for the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games, at this event we will be sharing items related to winter sports. Our activities and social media will therefore be focused on the history of the Winter Games in the coming weeks.

Geilo 1980 Winter Paralympics

A really, exciting piece of news is that we have a new project and partnership developing with Chiltern Open Air Museum. On hearing that the last of Dr Guttmann’s hospital huts was due to be demolished we approached the Museum, who rescue historical buildings of national importance, and to our delight they are keen to collaborate. This does mean some urgent fundraising over the coming months, for which we have already received some donations, but what a worthy cause and the opportunity to share more of the collection that would otherwise remain behind closed doors.

About Us

Just after Christmas we learnt that we had to move offices temporarily so the NHS could take over the Olympic Lodge. Our staff performed an outstanding job of moving our office and archive with short notice in order to assist the NHS. This has obviously caused some disruption but the whole team has risen to the challenge, and you will find us in rooms at the back of the stadium until at least the end of March. Our address and phone number remains unchanged if you need to contact us at all. The team has a very busy six months ahead of them with tight targets in terms of projects and cataloguing collections. 2022 to 2023 is our last year of the Heritage lottery funding in this phase of work so we shall also be focused on raising funds to see us through the next few years and to assist with this we shall shortly be appointing a fundraising consultant once we have reviewed our fundraising strategy.

We have welcomed several more volunteers over the Christmas period and have already called upon our established volunteers to support school visits this year. Without our volunteers we could achieve only a fraction of what we do and their support remains crucial to us as an organisation.


Just before Christmas the team and some volunteers joined forces with our local Rotary club and the Father Christmas float to raise funding. This is the third year we’ve done this, and it’s been great fun. Thank you to the Rotary club for a donation of £600 this year.

Father Christmas float with Aylesbury Rotary Club December 2021

I’m pleased to report that school visits are beginning to build up again and filled up three days of our week recently. Year six children from Great Missenden Church of England Combined School were on their first trip in three years, and for some their first school outing. One child said, “This is the best ever, ever day I have had”; a powerful reminder to us of the impact of Covid 19 on children.

Upcoming events

February Half Term, Family Friendly Event
Explore the Paralympics, at the National Paralympic Heritage Centre
Tuesday 22nd February 2022,  10.30-12.30 FREE Drop-in

Come and meet some of the team and be one of the first to hold the Beijing Winter Paralympic torch before it is used to light the cauldron! Get crafty and be inspired by the Paralympic handling collection of costumes, torches, medals and mascots. Will you make your own torch or design your own mascot? Or maybe both?

Currently we have a trail in the Heritage Centre on the theme of the Winter Paralympic mascots. I think my favourite is Alpy from the Tignes-Albertville 1992 Games. Interestingly, we are not sure whether Alpy was ever made into a soft toy and just remained an illustration. If you know otherwise, please do let us know!

Online activities for this half term will celebrate our Meet the Paralympian virtual events which took place in December 2021 with Lora and Neil Fachie.  Visitors to the website will be given the opportunity to engage in an interactive Q&A with Lora, read a Paralympic cycling fact sheet and then test themselves in our quiz. They will also learn the BSL sign for cycling and have the opportunity to learn using our Widgit activity sheet.

To enhance the Mascot trail in the Heritage Centre, there will also be an online draw-a-long activity with Jessica Hartshorn who will be showing us how to draw and colour our very own Mandeville mascot.


Some of our collection from the second Paralympic Games held in 1964 in Tokyo featured in an exhibition at Japan House, London last year. The exhibition looked at design for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games and was supported by a number of events. One event included the showing of the film that was made in 1964 leading up to and during the Games, featuring the stories of several participating Japanese athletes. The film has never been shown in the UK before and it was a fascinating insight into the camaraderie of the athletes and also attitudes towards disability in the 1960s. It was great to be part of this beautifully curated exhibition.

Display at the Paralympic exhibition at Japan House 2021

We plan to launch the virtual modular regional museum in March, but in the meantime, here is a sneak preview of what it will look like.

Concept for the virtual museum

We have started working on the physical modular regional exhibition in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation, and it will be installed at the Velopark in the Olympic Park, London for an exhibition over the summer celebrating 10 years since London 2012. I cannot believe that a decade has already passed. We shall include some of the costumes from the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games and use the opportunity to do some audience research, exploring what potential permanent displays people might like at the Olympic Park in the future.


Paralympic Heritage: Stories from …..: 14 partners are now fully engaged on this project with dates in the diary for 2022 and we have welcomed several new Paralympians to the project. David Smith (Boccia), Lora and Neil Fachie (Tandem Cycling), Ali Jawad (Power Lifter), Darren Harris (Blind Football) and Ian Rose (Judo).

The project page on the website is live and as each project completes, images and details of the learning outcomes from each partner involvement are shared. You can visit our project page here. The additional learning materials and experiences that have been created as the project plans have been developed have enhanced the delivery of the project. And to reinforce that learning can take place at any age the images below show our partners from Bartlett’s Residential Home in Stone, engaged in a poetry workshop, hosted by Paralympian, poet and singer songwriter, Robin Surgeoner, the outcome of which will be a small collection of bound poems created by the participants whose age ranged from 80 to 105!

Poetry day at Bartletts Residential Home 

Partners who have completed their projects have begun joining us at the Heritage Centre in person or virtually to celebrate their learning with us on this project and you can see some of their work on display in the Heritage Centre and on the project page.

School visit to the Paralympic Heritage Centre January 2022
Visit from Year 6 pupils at Great Missenden Church of England Combined School

3D Digital Explorations:  we continue to make good progress creating 3D digital models of items in our collection, with trained project participants coming in independently to scan objects, ready for our virtual exhibition on the History of the Paralympics. 

In November, a couple of members of the team visited the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where we demonstrated our skills learnt in using the new scanning technology. Members of London Stadium Learning were able to have a go with the specialist equipment and create some models themselves.

We were taught a different technique of creating 3D models called photogrammetry which we have since been able to share with other members of the project team.   

Photogrammetry course at London Stadium Learning

A total of 371 volunteer hours have been completed so far, just in scanning the collection. Some items have been chosen as they are too fragile or are too large and not practical to ‘handle’ in real life (i.e. fragile costume and a racing wheelchair). A number of items relate to London 2012 which we look forward to publishing on our website and making accessible, ready for the tenth anniversary of 2012 this year. Please get in touch if you have any personal items that you own that you think should be part of the virtual exhibition on the Paralympics. We would be pleased to scan them and return them to you. 

Trail development: as part of Sam Brady’s placement, he is assisting the development of a trail app and leaflet that will link the Stadium and the National Spinal Injuries Centre. Users will learn all about the history of the area and be able to watch films, see objects and photos and listen to the oral histories of the many pioneers of the Paralympic movement.

Oral histories: Rosie Hall, with support from a team of volunteers, continues to travel across the country capturing the important personal stories of Paralympians, coaches, their friends and family. The stories have been added to our website here, utilised by researchers, and are inspiring the work off our Meeting Point artist. They will also be accessible in the Heritage Centre later in the year. Capturing stories from the people who have lived the experiences is so important for the future generations, as well as being a real privilege to us.

Learning Resources: new school resources for KS2 – 4 STEM subjects are currently being developed by our Education Consultant, Jessica Hartshorn, and will be launched in line with National Science Week 11-20 March 2022.  Using our displays in the National Spinal Injuries Centre these new resources will enhance the appreciation of the pioneering work undertaken at Stoke Mandeville by Professor Guttmann and his colleagues.

Meeting Point: the work of Jordan Baseman is internationally recognised, and this project will not only enhance our audience reach but will further develop the experience we offer our established patrons.  Drawing on our oral histories this film animation is set to encourage a reflective appreciation of the journey an athlete embarks on as they challenge themselves to reach the highest goals.  Considerable energy to date has been spent considering the accessibility of this work for all our visitor groups. This endeavour reinforces the integrity of the artist’s work and the messages it carries.  The completion of this film animation is expected to coincide with the 10th anniversary of London 2012.


It's wonderful to be able to share all the recent project work, biographies, oral history interviews and blog 'From the archives' through our social media channels and on the website. We've had families get in touch sending images and information about earlier Paralympic athletes and we've been able to reciprocate, finding newspaper clippings and images from our library.

History, Collections and Donations

We have continued to receive some amazing items into our collection. Thank you to everyone who has donated to us in recent months.

Robin Jackson for the beautiful giant photograph of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games that is now gracing the walls of Buckinghamshire Archives for guests and visitors to enjoy.

Vanessa Degas has donated the gravity costume she wore for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. This is an important addition to the costumes we already have from this event.

Diane West, daughter of Paralympian Alan West, has donated a wonderful collection to the Trust. Not only does it tell us about Alan’s incredible career, but it has also provided information on the story of the Paralympian Dick Thompson, another important pioneer in the development of the Games.

Christopher Rowe, son of Ralph Rowe, has shared family photos to add to his Dad’s Paralympic biography.

In addition, we have a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic torch and Caz Walton has sent us her Tokyo 2020 kit.

Work continues box listing the NPHT collection and the WheelPower collection. Special thanks to Sam Brady and Rosanna Richie (Bucks Archive) and our regular volunteers for their work on this. We are currently looking for more volunteers to help with the project so if you are interested in knowing more about the collections and helping with box listing, please do get in touch to find out more. 


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 and given us so many hours of face-to-face work over the last four months.

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

Vicky Hope-Walker, NPHT Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]