On Friday 2nd September 2016 Paralympic legend Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, one of the most successful Paralympic athletes in UK history, will light the Rio 2016 Heritage Flame in a spectacular televised ceremony at Stoke Mandeville.
The Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony is part of the lead-up to the fifteenth summer Paralympic Games.
Oganisers from the Bucks Legacy Board revealed the news of Baroness Grey-Thompson’s involvement as they pledged to make the events in Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury an integral and unforgettable part of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
As the birthplace of the Paralympic movement Stoke Mandeville is the only venue outside the host nation of Brazil to play a role in creating the Paralympic Flame at the opening ceremony.
The Heritage Flame will combine with others travelling to Rio from across Brazil to ignite the flame which marks the start of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday 7th September 2016.
This tradition began two years ago before the Sochi Winter Games and followed the lighting of the Paralympic Torch and start of the Paralympic Torch Relay in 2012.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said: ‘I spent most of my childhood at Stoke Mandeville. It’s such an important part of the Paralympic movement and it’s great it’s being recognised around the world. It’s where it all began.
It’s going to be an incredible ceremony and really nicely thought out. I’m really excited about being there – it’s going to be very moving.‘
An audience of 1,400 ticket holders will witness the Heritage Flame being lit at Stoke Mandeville Stadium while thousands more will be celebrating in a carnival atmosphere at Aylesbury’s Vale Park to give the Flame a fitting send-off as it is transferred to Rio.
Baroness Grey-Thompson urged the public to flock to the event in Vale Park, particularly as a way of showing their support for the GB team who are competing in Rio.
‘It’s going to be a massive celebration and a really good party,‘ she said. ‘People should come along – it shows the support for the Paralympics. It’s a great way to wish good luck to Paralympics GB.‘
The Baroness, 47, is a former British wheelchair racer, now a member of the house of Lords, speaker and television commentator. She was born with spina bifida and joined the British Wheelchair Racing Squad aged 17, competing in the Paralympic Games over 16 years and winning eleven gold, four silver and one bronze medals – breaking 30 world records during her glittering career.
From 10.00am to 4.00pm on Friday 2nd September 2016, Stoke Mandeville Stadium will also host the Paralympics GB Carnival, the first of six family-friendly activity days around the UK organised by the British Paralympic Association and supported by the Spirit of 2012. This free fun day at the Stadium offers a chance for anyone and everyone to meet Paralympians, try out Paralympic sports, talk to those involved in running them and discover what is available in their own area.
Further information on the Paralympics GB Carnival events taking place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium can be found at http://paralympics.org.uk/carnival.
Further information about the public celebration event in Aylesbury’s Vale Park can be found at https://www.facebook.com/FlameCelebration/?fref=ts.