We have made great strides since 2015 uncovering, protecting and sharing Paralympic heritage previously hidden and at risk of being permanently lost. 

The first phase of our important archives and collections work focused on Stoke Mandeville, Sir Ludwig Guttmann (father of Paralympics), early development of the Paralympic Movement and Games and predominantly wheelchair sport. With the National Disability Sports Organisation WheelPower also based at Stoke Mandeville and one of our founding partners. This work is ongoing as we continue to protect our national Paralympic heritage and make it accessible for all to enjoy and learn from. 

The next phase of our collections work will ensure that the underrepresented heritage of five other Paralympic National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs) is safeguarded for future generations. Recognised as a key priority and commitment in our new organisational strategy “Becoming Seamlessly Inclusive, 2023-28’. 

Celebrating Paralympic sport for sensory needs, cerebral palsy and dwarfism

With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) we are excited to begin this journey - uncovering, protecting, and sharing at risk Paralympic heritage of British Blind Sport, Cerebral Palsy Sport and Dwarf Sports Association UK, placing the expertise, insights, and experiences of disabled people at the heart of how the stories are researched, interpreted, and presented.   

Over the next 3 years, our team of four disabled Museum Trainees supported by our heritage and learning experts will work with the NDSO's, their Paralympians and membership to uncover, develop and protect their collections through research, recording, oral history collecting and cataloguing.

We will share and promote heritage uncovered to promote inclusion, access and participation. Training and mentoring our Museum Trainees to deliver the project, building relationships with the sports organisations, co-curating and utilising new digital approaches to:

  • Preserve heritage uncovered using 3D-scanning and photogrammetry.
  • Engage new audiences through virtual museum galleries.
  • Encourage public engagement and understanding of new collections and associated disabilities through linked-learning resources.  

We will be working with British Blind Sport over the next year so look out for exciting updates as we begin to uncover new Paralympic stories and heritage items.

The project dovetails with our Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation programme working with disabled young people, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) schools and local museums in Buckinghamshire, East London and Hampshire over 3-years. Teaching SEND pupils heritage and digital skills to co-curate virtual regional galleries and establishing inclusive partnerships to increase accessibility of local museums and heritage, particularly for those with severe sensory needs.  


Sporting Heritage Microform Digital Support Grant

October 2023

We have a significant photographic collection in slide format which is currently not digitised, putting it at risk and limiting public and academic access. This grant, alongside the expert advice and support of Microform, will help build the Trust’s capacity to preserve, share and grow these photographic collections through digital capture and storage. The collections include early glass slides linked to Professor Guttmann’s work (Father of the Paralympics) at the National Spinal Injuries Unit, Stoke Mandeville, and transparencies showing the Games and other events at Stoke Mandeville, as well as various Para Commonwealth and Paralympic Games from 1968 to 1976. 

Box of slides and ipad with close up of slides on a table.

We look forward to delving into a recent donation from Diane West and her father, Alan West, collection of film slides from the 50, 60's and 70's.

Microform will be supporting us with:

  • Advice on appropriate scanning equipment.
  • Training for staff, trainees and volunteers on handling the items, using the equipment, and storing the filesfor staff and volunteers.

Keep a look out for progress on this project!

Changing the Heritage Centre display 

September 2023

As part of our Museum Trainees development, Will Phillips, Curator at Discover Bucks Museum, showed them how to safely remove items from display, handle items of clothing correctly and create specialist padding with conservation tissue to protect and pack the cloak for safe storage. The trainees then worked to curate a new display with different items from our collection chosen by the public.

Watch our video of the changeover below

Museum trainee Adam commented: 

My favourite new item was the Union Jack dress. This was because it was interesting that the decoration was created by using spray paint.

Museum trainee Thomas explained:

Today we worked with Will to remove the 2012 jacket and the Ian McKellen robe from the display and place the union jack dress and the human rights jacket and t-shirt in the display case. What I enjoyed the most about that day was being able to learn more about how we handle our objects, the process of removing and changing the exhibit around, and being able to get a more hands on experience and do it. It was a rather interesting learning experience.

Funders and partners