Generations of Ludwig Guttmann’s family gathered on Sunday as a statue of the famous doctor was unveiled at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
A crowd of 400 crammed into the stadium to recognise the German for his revolutionary spinal injury work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and his role as the founder of the modern day Paralympic Games.
Unveiled by his children Dennis Guttmann and Eva Loeffer, the statue will stay outside the stadium until the end of the Games before taking up permanent residence at the spinal unit at the hospital.
The idea for the statue was developed by founder of the Poppa Guttmann Trust, Mike MacKenzie in what he jokingly described as ‘one of the ‘great stitch ups.’
Speaking before the unveiling Mr MacKenzie said: “About three years ago I saw Phillip Lewis. Somehow I knew I was in trouble and sure enough I was.
“Phillip had asked Jimmy Savile what could be done about celebrating Guttmann in the year of the return of the Paralympics.
“I thought what better way than a bronze statue.
“We saw it for the first time yesterday (Saturday) actually and it’s not that bad.”
Unveiled to rapturous applause, Mr MacKenzie reflected upon a long journey.
“I would like to say it’s a huge relief. It’s the culmination of three years of hard work.
“Thanks to the Bucks Herald we have had a lot of people get in touch. It’s thrilling to see so many people here.”
Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson who sculpted the statue said: “It’s a marvellous day.
“It’s fantastic to see it displayed properly instead of in a studio environment.”
Guttmann’s son Dennis, 82, said: “I’m surprised at how well the statue has come out. It’s a great likeness particularly as it was done from pictures.”
Minister of State for Care Servies Paul Burstow said of Guttmann: “He was well ahead of his time. He treated not just the injuries but the whole person.”
The unveling of the statue does not mark the end of the project as a bust will be displayed at all future Games and the trust has been selected as Paralympic torchbearers on August 28.
“It’s going to go on and on,” Mr MacKenzie added jokingly.