6 Mar 2018
On Friday 2 March one of eight flames to form the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games Torch Relay was lit at Aylesbury’s very own Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
The flame was ignited during an inspiring ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium by Paralympians and official Torch Bearers, Ali Jawad and Sophie Christiansen CBE. The lighting of the official Paralympic Cauldron took centre stage at the exciting event as part of the build up to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. Sports men and women from local disability groups joined the two Torch Bearers to express 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 ceremony looked to honour the individual courage of all those living with an impairment who are able to use sport as their route to rehabilitation and Paralympic glory.
This year celebrates 70 years of growth of the Paralympic Movement from its origins at the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, and last night’s ceremony was the third time Stoke Mandeville has hosted an inspiring event showcasing the Paralympic Heritage Flame.
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games commences on Friday 9 March and will include up to 670 athletes from 45 countries. Athletes will compete in 80 medal events across six sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboard and wheelchair curling.
Broadcasters from more than 100 countries will beam the pictures to an audience of 4 billion people.
A moving speech by Tim Reddish CBE, Member of the Governing Board, International Paralympic Committee, described the impact of the Paralympic Movement and how, through sport, it had changed so many people’s lives and changed the perception of disability across the world.
The Paralympic Flame is “a powerful uniting force” said Councillor Howard Mordue, Director of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust and Aylesbury Vale District Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance: “It is hard to believe that just 70 years ago the spark for the Paralympic Games were ignited here, in Stoke Mandeville, by Sir Ludwig Guttmann. His vision to transform the lives of people with impairment through sport has since flourished and grown into something that today is widely regarded as the world’s number one event for driving social inclusion for those with disabilities.”
Ambassador of Republic of Korea to the UK His Excellency Joonkook Hwang “I pay tribute to the people from Stoke Mandeville who, in 1948, organised the Festival of Grand splendour games that ignited the “Spirit of Endeavour” that has seen Paralympians compete in 26 Paralympic Games. South Korea is very proud to host the twelfth Paralympic Winter Games, the second to take place in Asia.”
AVDC Chair, Councillor Susan Renshell, said: “We were thrilled to welcome such esteemed British Paralympians to Aylesbury Vale for our much-loved Heritage Flame Lighting event. Ali and Sophie are the ideal team to inspire and motivate the event’s local and global audience.”
As the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, Stoke Mandeville continues to be at its forefront, providing an environment that supports new and inclusive standards in sport, culture, health and education, and will continue to host the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony for all future Paralympic Games.