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Paralympic Heritage Centre opens in England

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A world first heritage centre dedicated to the Paralympic movement has opened in Stoke Mandeville, England, telling the story of it from its inception in the 1940s to present day.

The main exhibition for the Paralympic Heritage Centre was developed by Mather & Co and is located at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire – the National Centre for Disability Sport in the United Kingdom.

It looks at Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who encouraged wounded veterans to play sport for spinal injury rehabilitation while treating them at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which then led to the Stoke Mandeville Games and eventually the Paralympic Games.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded the National Paralympic Heritage Trust £1m (US$1.3m, €1.2m) for the project, helping its entire collection to be digitised and preserved for future generations.

The collection has also been archived, catalogued and shared to reach the widest audience possible, while a nationwide programme of regional exhibitions are also displayed or to be displayed in Norwich, Manchester, Bradford, Bath and London to share the Paralympic story with people across the UK.

Visitors have tactile access at the centre, with items on display for handling including a goalball, a para-hockey blade, the latest Ottobock running blade and wheelchairs from the 1950s right up to the present day.

"This accessible high-quality museum celebrates important local, national and international history," said Vicky Hope-Walker, project manager at the National Paralympic Heritage Trust.

"It tells the story of the Paralympics from its birth in 1948 through to today, with displays on Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a timeline, wheelchair sport and celebrations."

The heritage centre is supported by the British Paralympic Association, WheelPower, British Wheelchair Sport, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County Council.

Beyond HLF, funding was also received from AIM Biffa Award ‘History Makers’ Programme, the Rothschild Foundation, Aylesbury Vale Community Chest, Heart of Bucks and the Wellcome Trust.

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A world first heritage centre dedicated to the Paralympic movement has opened in Stoke Mandeville, England, telling the story of it from its inception in the 1940s to present day.
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