Call for regular Paralympic flame ceremony at Stoke Mandeville

Bucks Free Press: The Paralympic flame is lit at Stoke Mandeville in August The Paralympic flame is lit at Stoke Mandeville in August

A CAMPAIGN calling for the Paralympic torch to be lit at its spiritual home in Bucks before each Games is gathering pace amongst councillors in the county.

Chiltern District Council last night became the third authority to pass a motion calling for the torch to be lit at Stoke Mandeville every four years.

The proposal was unanimously passed by members, following in the footsteps of their counterparts at Buckinghamshire County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council.

Lib Dem group leader Peter Jones, who proposed the motion, said: "When one thinks of the benefits to Buckinghamshire as a whole, and by extension to Chiltern, it seems absolutely right we should do this.

"If the Olympic flame is lit on Mount Olympus every four years, it seems Stoke Mandeville would be a jolly good place to have the Paralympic torch lit every year."

Tory Andrew Garnett seconded the motion, saying: "Few of us can fail to have been inspired by the Paralympics, watching people overcome very significant disabilities to take part in their chosen sport.

"This will recognise the importance of the Paralympic movement and put it on a par with the able-bodied Olympics."

Stoke Mandeville is considered the birthplace of the Paralympic Games thanks to the pioneering work of Sir Ludwig Guttman at what is now the national Spinal Injuries Clinic.

He encouraged people with spinal injuries to play competitive sport as part of their recovery, and out of that came the first Paralympics - which took place the same day as the opening ceremony of the last London Olympic Games in 1948.

One of this year's Olympic mascots was called Mandeville in recognition of the town's place in the history of the Games.

Before the start of this year's Games the Paralympic flame was created at Stoke Mandeville Stadium by bringing together four National Flames which had been lit in each of the UK's capital cities.

From the stadium it was carried in a 24 hour relay to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, via Stoke Mandeville hospital.

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