Birthplace of the Paralympic Movement
The Stadium developed out of the Stoke Mandeville Games, the forerunner of the Paralympic Games which was founded by Sir Ludwig Guttmann He was a neurosurgeon based at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital who recognised the value of exercise and competition in the rehabilitation of ex-members of the British armed forces. Stoke Mandeville Stadium was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 1969 as an international centre of excellence of sport for men, women and children with disabilities.
When Sir Ludwig Guttmann died in 1980 the Stadium was renamed Ludwig Guttmann Sports Centre for the Disabled. Following a £10.2 million refurbishment in 2003 the Stadium was renamed "Stoke Mandeville Stadium". The redevelopment transformed the original sports centre into a high grade leisure complex to enable WheelPower to provide a venue of the highest quality for all users. Stoke Mandeville Stadium has become known as the ‘home of wheelchair sport’ and the ‘birthplace of the Paralympic Games’.
Stoke Mandeville Stadium is owned by WheelPower, the national organisation for wheelchair sport.
More Leisure Community Trust and Serco Leisure
More Leisure Community Trust, and its managing agent Serco Leisure, has been awarded a 10-year contract to operate Stoke Mandeville Stadium, birthplace of the Paralympic Movement and the National Centre for Disability Sport, by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport. The new contract will come into effect on 3 April 2018.
Serco Leisure’s experience of running the National Sports Centres: Lilleshall, Bisham Abbey and the National Water Sports Centre was seen as key to the success of the bid.
More Leisure Community Trust’s Chairman, Brian Taylor said: “We are relishing the prospect of working closely with WheelPower and Serco Leisure to deliver a bold and exciting transformation of the site, its locality and facilities.
“Our aim is for Stoke Mandeville Stadium to become an inspirational sporting facility shared and enjoyed by both disabled and non-disabled sports men and women.
“We want to build on the tremendous legacy and history of Stoke Mandeville - the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.”
Serco Leisure will be using its longstanding and close relationships with both Sport England and National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to develop the links and activity programmes that provide ‘opportunities and pathways’ working with disability sports clubs and organisations to enable disabled people and to be more active, enjoy sport for fun, compete and progress into national and elite sport.
Martin McElhatton, Chief Executive of WheelPower added:
“WheelPower is delighted to welcome More Leisure and Serco Leisure as our partner to manage Stoke Mandeville Stadium for the next ten years. We are excited at the opportunity the partnership will provide to further develop the facilities and provide life transforming experiences for disabled people through sport and physical activity. Stoke Mandeville Stadium is also proud of its Paralympic heritage and we will continue to celebrate this and share the story of the movement which started here 70 years ago this year. Stoke Mandeville Stadium is at the heart of the local community and our new partnership will ensure more local people in Aylesbury Vale and Buckinghamshire have access to wonderful facilities for sport and leisure.”
Serco Leisure’s Managing Director, Jason Holtom said: “This is a big win for More Leisure. We are very much looking forward to working with and learning from WheelPower. Its team’s expertise together with our knowledge and experience in running large scale sporting centres makes this new partnership the perfect fit.”
Over the course of the 10-year contract, Serco Leisure plans to make significant further enhancements to the site, with improvements to its sporting and hospitality facilities and through developing new partnerships.
Further information about the Stadium
Visit the Stoke Mandeville Stadium website for more information.