Stoke Mandeville’s status as the birthplace of the Paralympics is internationally recognised as it plays a central role in delivering the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay.
From this, the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony was born, creating an international leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay for all future Paralympic Games.
The eyes of the world were on Stoke Mandeville as the first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame was lit in a spectacular ceremony celebrating the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. Stoke Mandeville became the first place in history to be involved in the Paralympic Torch Relay outside of the Games’ hosting country. Gold medal winning British wheelchair racing athlete Hannah Cockcroft MBE generated the first ever Heritage Flame. This was done from a position inside an extraordinarily beautiful artwork - an Armillary Sphere created by internationally acclaimed theatre designer Jon Bausor, referencing the Greek God Hephaestus, who was himself disabled and credited with inventing the first wheelchair.
Stoke Mandeville Stadium played host to another spectacular ceremony lighting the Paralympic Heritage Flame. Former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE and skier Kelly Gallagher MBE took centre stage at the glittering event, part of the build up to the Rio Paralympic Games. Professional dancers and performers were joined by volunteers, to tell the story of The Seeds of Diversity - the growth of the Paralympic Games from its origins at the first Stoke Mandeville Games to the worldwide sporting phenomenon it is recognised as today.
Watch the Channel 4 News broadcast on YouTube.
Even after 70 years, Stoke Mandeville continues to be at the Paralympic movement’s forefront, providing an environment that supports new and inclusive standards in sport, culture, health and education. Sparking not only the Paralympic Heritage Flame, the inspiring ceremony also ignited the Spirit of Endeavour, which at its heart is a story of individual courage beginning with Sir Ludwig Guttmann and extending to all those who have competed and triumphed in the Paralympic Games. The Heritage Flame was virtually sent to South Korea to celebrate the build up to PyeongChang2018 Winter Paralympic Games.
Watch the Channel 4 News broadcast.