10th March 2021

Welcome from Nigel Purse, NPHT Chairman

Welcome to the eighth edition of our newsletter. We hope this finds you in continued good health, looking towards the light at the end of pandemic tunnel and enjoying the beginning of spring. The prolonged Covid-19 situation has, like most other museums, now affected the work of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust: for example, in respect of a loss of planned exhibitions, fundraising plans and a slow down on the cataloguing of collections. But, forever resourceful, we are looking at new and exciting ways of delivering those areas most affected.
We have been extremely busy producing a new two-year strategy, fundraising plans and a complete virtual exhibition offer that will deliver outreach far further than our original plans. In addition, we are about to put in our application for full museum accreditation as a nationally styled museum. This gives us full professional status and linked to the business plan opens up funding opportunities for support in marketing, evaluation and commercial fundraising. Over the next two years we have to change our business model from being a project-based organisation, as our National Lottery Heritage Funding comes to a close, into one that is more sustainable through a combination of services to the commercial sector and partnerships with key stakeholders.  Despite our incredible output and success over the past four years we still need to secure our long-term financial sustainability requiring your support, whether through your networks, influence, attendance and funding.

We remain indebted to your incredible object donations, including that of Tony Sainsbury OBE, incorporating his personal collection in his role as chef de mission for the British Paralympic Team at five Paralympic Games, alongside many other achievements.
The next two years will see us complete some exciting, dynamic project work alongside working hard to secure our future, post the National Lottery Heritage Fund programme, through the delivery of funding development programme. We shall also be laying out the ground work for our longer-term vision of permanent displays across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, widening our celebration of the Paralympic Games to incorporate London 2012 and the disability sport federation journeys. 

Tony Sainsbury OBE with our CEO delivering his collection

Tony Sainsbury OBE with our CEO delivering his collection

About Us

We would like to welcome Fiona Darling-Glinski as our Learning Officer who joined us in December to head up learning and the delivery of our HS2 work. Fiona has already revised our learning policy having done an audit of our offer. With a background in both disability sport and museum qualifications she was a perfect candidate. We are now in the process of recruiting freelancers to assist in our new marketing and evaluation plans.
We also welcome to the team a number of new volunteers supporting us in writing transcripts, oral histories and website research. In addition, our team of volunteers have continued to support our virtual delivery with amazing success, honing their digital skills and delivering from their homes, though looking forward to getting back to some face-to-face activity again.


Our events programme, fronted by our brilliant volunteers, has continued with half-term offers reaching hundreds of virtual visitors, something not possible in our small Heritage Centre space. We have had storytelling, collection sharing, creative activities and a storytelling competition based around a London 2012 GB athlete’s jacket.  

We are grateful to Helene Raynsford who was our November Meet the Paralympian attended by over 100 young people and 36 adults.

April and Shaun, NPHT volunteers, share fun activities for the holidays

Event volunteers, April and Shaun, presenting vlogs for the half term holidays

Upcoming events

Friday 19th March  - We will be hosting a Meet the Paralympian event with guest speaker Lucy Shuker, wheelchair tennis champion. There are still some spaces available. 
Look out for our Easter holiday activities which will include a Mandeville draw-a-long session with Education Consultant, Jessica Hartshorn. 


The prolonged Covid-19 situation does mean that we will struggle to deliver one of our remaining regional exhibitions, but we are in the process of developing a completely virtual offer that will enable even the tiniest of museums and other venues to celebrate their local Paralympians and disability sports clubs.  With three Paralympic Games happening between 2021-2024 we shall pilot the scheme this year leading to a considerable widening of our reach in the following year. We are continuing with our exciting long-term plans for displays across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and there is the possibility of collaboration with the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022.


Paralympic Heritage: Stories from ….. : with Fiona on board the delivery of this great project is now underway. There have been some positive discussions with a number of our partners including Waddesdon Church of England School, Wendover Parish Council, Wendover Art Club, Wendover Church of England Junior School, Finmere School, Brackley Community and Radstone Primary School. We look forward to the exciting stories that will come from this work including more about the Finmere Show (1959-2015).

3D Digital Explorations: This project plays an important role in the building of exciting and engaging digital resources for worldwide access to the work of the Trust, alongside providing a pool of people trained in the use of a 3D scanner. We are delighted that this project can be extended beyond Buckinghamshire, visit here to find out more if you or anyone you know would like to take part.
Spirit of Stoke Mandeville: We are delighted that in partnership with Calibre Audio the book, 'Spirit of Stoke Mandeville' the biography of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, is now available in audio for those with a print disability. Details on accessing the book will be shared shortly. To find out more about Calibre audio visit their website here: www.calibreaudio.org.uk
Recovery Curriculum: Conscious of the need to support schools in their Recovery Curriculum we are compiling a selection of creative lessons for schools and individuals to widen their knowledge of Paralympic Heritage.  Using a variety of materials including our vlogs and virtual museum, students will be able to explore in greater detail the objects that continue to tell the powerful stories behind the Paralympic Movement.
Meeting Point: We are fortunate to have been invited to participate in the Meeting Point programme which will see contemporary artists working alongside staff and volunteers, exploring the telling of stories from our collections in new and unexpected ways. Look out for updates on how we are progressing with this work.


Our digital engagement has continued apace and we have contributed to several heritage-based conferences on our work since the last newsletter, including the sharing of our digital strategy across the South East Museums network. We are working with Google on an exciting project for this summer which we will reveal in due course.
Visitors to the website in January 2021 alone showed a rise of over 100% on the previous year. Our social media engagement is also proving popular. Recent hits include a vlog with Tahra Zafar, Head of Costume at London 2012 ceremonies, and our PhD student Sam Brady's blog on ‘Types of Wheelchairs’, reaching over 1000 impressions and putting our You Tube channel viewing up by 45% in January.

Image of interview with Tahra Zafar, Head of Costume at London 2012 Games, over Zoom

Vicky's vlog with Tahra Zafar, Head of Costume at the London 2012 Ceremonies

History and Donations

Excellent plans are now in place to ensure that we have the early collections and smaller collections catalogued over the next few years. We are still dependent on fundraising for some of this but have the assistance of a growing team of trained volunteers to help. Tony Sainsbury’s collection is a truly valuable addition arriving listed and neatly arranged in a stack of banana boxes.  
The periods of reduced activity last year provided an opportunity for our Oral History volunteers to capture some great interviews whilst people were at home. They include interviews with Mike Brace CBE DL, Mike Parkin, Lady Susan Masham, Eva Loeffler OBE, Doug Williamson, Graham White, Gill Beck, Helen Phillips, Monica Vaughan, Kevan Baker OBE, Terry Willett, Paul Cartwright, Diane West, Tony Sainsbury OBE and Tahra Zafar. Our volunteers are now busy typing up the transcripts for the interviews. When approved, these will be made available for you to listen to on our website with some interviews already featured. You can listen to these here

Mike Brace, Paralympic skier

Paralympic skier, Mike Brace's Oral history interview is now available online


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 the Rotary Club of Aylesbury for their generous donation.

Thank you to our volunteers who have continued to support our work despite the personal challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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