The eagerly-anticipated Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch has arrived in Aylesbury, heralding the start of the countdown to this summer’s Paralympic Games. To celebrate, Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) and WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, are offering local schools and community groups the chance to be one of the first to take a sneak-peek at the Torch.
To raise awareness and evoke excitement about the upcoming Paralympic Games, AVDC has received an official prototype of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee. As the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Aylesbury is honoured to be the only place in the United Kingdom to receive a Torch! Together AVDC and WheelPower will be taking the unlit prototype Paralympic Torch on a tour of Buckinghamshire, visiting local schools and community groups and celebrating Aylesbury Vale’s unique Paralympic heritage. The Torch will then be lit for the first time at the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on 20 August 2020.
To kick-start Buckinghamshire’s Paralympic Torch tour, AVDC and WheelPower visited the fantastic pupils at Stoke Mandeville Combined School.
AVDC Councillor Paul Irwin, Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, said:
“It’s a privilege to be able to share a sneak-peek of the prototype Paralympic Torch with local schools and community groups across Aylesbury Vale and the wider area, and hopefully spark excitement for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Martin McElhatton OBE, CE WheelPower commented:
“I am very proud of Aylesbury Vale’s unique Paralympic heritage, born from the invaluable work achieved by Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s National Spinal Injury Unit, and at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as the movement grew. WheelPower is excited to be working with AVDC to deliver a fantastic ceremony that encompasses the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games values. It’s great to see that, once again, an international spotlight will be shone on the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony recognising Stoke Mandeville’s role in Paralympic history.”
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay officially begins on 13 August, with Stoke Mandeville Stadium stepping into the spotlight on 20 August to host the fourth Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony. The Torch Relay, inspired by the concept “Share Your Light”, will see flames lit separately in each of the 47 prefectures of Japan, as well as right here in Stoke Mandeville. The flames will then all be brought together into a single flame in Tokyo, before the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The design of the Paralympic Torch incorporates the key values of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games: inclusivity, peace, recovery and sustainability. The Torch’s unique shape and colour takes inspiration from the five-petal cherry blossom known in Japan as ‘Sakura’. Five separate flames burn from the Torch’s petals, combining in the centre to give off a “Path of Hope” through one brilliant light. The torch is made of approximately 30% recycled aluminium, extracted from temporary housing units used in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Eastern Japan in 2011, and it has been specially produced to ensure it is easy for absolutely anyone to hold, regardless of age, ability or gender.