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Paralympic archives to be saved

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Historic picture of the Stoke Mandeville Games.

Archives and artefacts dating back to the very origins of the Paralympic movement are to be catalogued and conserved by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.

The preservation work will be possible thanks to a major grant of £175,566 by the Wellcome Trust following an application by the archives department of Buckinghamshire County Council, in partnership with the National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT).

The grant will fund three new members of staff at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies to help complete the work, which will take two years.

The vital records being preserved track the origins of the Paralympic movement and include patient records dating back to 1944, when Dr Ludwig Guttmann first set up the spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

In addition to the patient files, the archives of the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation and WheelPower will come into the scope of the exciting ‘Spinal to Sport’ project.

County Archivist Laura Cotton who was instrumental in obtaining the funding said: ‘It is really exciting to be widening access to these records by cataloguing them and making them available to the public.

The Paralympic Games and the work done by Sir Ludwig Guttmann is extremely important to Buckinghamshire and we are immensely proud of the recognition this gets internationally.

Paul Mainds, Chair of the NPHT, who were partners in the application, said ‘Not only will the records be treasured locally, but they will be the cornerstone of our nationwide exhibition and public engagement work going forward. We are delighted to be working with Laura and her team at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.

Laura added ‘What is really exciting about this is the importance of these records to the heritage of Buckinghamshire and the potential they have to be used internationally in academic and medical research into spinal injuries and Paralympic sport in general.

Cabinet member for Margaret Aston said: ‘The Paralympics has always been very special to Buckinghamshire and having the funds available to properly archive and preserve its history is wonderful.

It is a credit to archives department who have secured this funding which has the potential help people worldwide in the future.

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