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Stoke Mandeville is internationally recognised as the birthplace of the Paralympics Movement since its origins in 1948 and the pioneering work of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann. Stoke Mandeville Stadium has provided a venue for the original Stoke Mandeville Games which later became the Paralympics and the Stadium has played a pivotal role for disabled and Paralympic sport including hosting the 1984 Paralympic Games.
Since hosting the Paralympic Torch Lighting Ceremony and start of the Torch Relay for the London 2012 Paralympic Games Stoke Mandeville Stadium has played a central role in delivering the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony, an international leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay ahead of the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games.
The Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony sends a message of good luck to the athletes and hosts of the Games from the spiritual birthplace of the Movement and celebrates the connection between all Paralympians around the world, one whose shoulders the movement has grown and developed.
The eyes of the world were on Stoke Mandeville as the first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame was lit in a spectacular ceremony ahead of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Stoke Mandeville became the first place in history to be involved in the Paralympic Torch Relay outside of the Games’ host country.
Gold medal winning British wheelchair racing superstar Hannah Cockcroft MBE created the first ever Heritage Flame through human endeavour inside an extraordinarily beautiful artwork - an Armillary Sphere created by internationally acclaimed designer Jon Bausor. Legendary Paralympian, Caz Walton took the flame and lit the Cauldron ahead of it being virtually transferred to Sochi for the Games.
Former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE and gold medal winning skier Kelly Gallagher MBE took centre stage as 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.
‘Spirit of Endeavour’ told the story of individual courage beginning with Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann and extending to all those who have competed and triumphed in the Paralympic Games.
The Flame was lit by Paralympians Sophie Christiansen CBE and Ali Jawad.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony took place on Thursday 19 August 2021 at Stoke Mandeville Stadium following the postponement to the Games in 2020. The Ceremony formed part of the five-day-long official Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay.
The lighting of the official Paralympic Heritage Cauldron, designed by local students and specially commissioned by local outdoors arts company Festive Road for future Paralympic Heritage Flame events, took centre stage at the exciting event as part of the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The flame was lit by Paralympians Susie Rodgers and Jane Blackburn.
“We were thrilled to welcome such esteemed British Paralympians to Stoke Mandeville Stadium for the much-loved Heritage Flame Lighting event. We hope Susie, Dave and Jane’s presence and involvement in this year’s ceremony inspires and motivates local and global audiences.”
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 future Paralympic Games." - Martin McElhatton, CEO WheelPower.