New event aims to increase Stoke Mandeville’s status as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement....
We were deeply saddened to hear the news from her great friend Caz Walton that Gillian Matthews MBE JP had passed away yesterday after a short spell in hospital.
As a young mother of four children including twin boys aged three, Gill had a spinal injury (complete T5) after falling from her horse ‘Sunsketch’ at the Larkhill Point to Point in 1965. Apparently Gill cheekily recalls the horse was uninjured and went on to win the Royal Artillery Gold Cup in 1967!
After six months rehabilitation at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, Gill went on to represent Great Britain in four Paralympic Games and in 1988 became the Para World Champion in Table Tennis in Brisbane, Australia.
Despite being such a high lesion, Gill achieved an enormous amount in her life. In addition to being a Paralympic medallist she served as a Dorset JP and Magistrate from 1978 – 2006 and was honoured with an MBE in 2004 for her Services to Charity.
Gill played a huge part in sport development, introducing a multitude of disabled people to sport, both with local initiatives and the introduction of the Bath & West Games for the Disabled where for many years she was a key figure in the planning of disabled facilities at the Show. Gill even managed to entice the future King (Prince Charles at the time) to have a go at wheelchair basketball at the Show.
Gill had also served as Chairperson for the English Paraplegic Sports Association (EPSA) and President of Stoke Paraplegic Athletic Club (SPAC).
Gill undoubtedly touched countless lives and made a huge difference for the better for many disabled people.
Everyone at WheelPower and Stoke Mandeville Stadium send their sincere condolences to Gill’s family and friends from disability sport and the wider community she served so well during a full and active life.
Martin McElhatton OBE, WheelPower Chief Executive