Special good luck ceremony confirmed at birthplace of Paralympics in Stoke Mandeville

Several British athletes at this year's games have links to the famous hospital.
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To pay tribute to Team GB's remarkable athletes a good luck ceremony will take place at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Ahead of the Paralympic flame lighting ceremony which will pass through Stoke Mandeville on August 19, an origami tribute is planned a day earlier.

Staff from the the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) at the hospital will join with friends and family to create 1,000 origami cranes as emblems of good luck.

Stoke Mandeville HospitalStoke Mandeville Hospital
Stoke Mandeville Hospital

An ancient Japanese legend promises that if anyone folds a thousand paper cranes they will be granted good luck by the gods.

Eight members of the Team GB squad have links to NSIC. Wheelchair racer, Nathan Maguire, badminton player, Martin Rooke, rowers, Ben Pritchard and Lauren Rowles, shooter, Issy Bailey, basketballer, Jim Palmer and rugby players, Jon Coggan and Chris Ryan.

Allison Graham, spinal consultant at the NSIC said: “It’s wonderful to watch people we have supported go on to compete against the very best in the world.

"We’re incredibly proud and inspired by their level of training, commitment and determination. We hope our current patients may be inspired to take up a sport as part of their rehabilitation programme - it may lead them to Paris in 2024 or LA in 2028.”

The NSIC is the oldest, and one of the largest spinal injuries centres in the world. It was founded by neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1944 to treat servicemen who had sustained spinal cord injuries in World War II.

In 1948, Professor Guttmann began using sport as a key element of rehabilitation programmes and on 29 July 1948 he organised a competition for 16 paralysed men and women to coincide with the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

This date is now widely seen as the moment that the Paralympic movement was born. Professor Guttmann received a knighthood in recognition of his contribution to the Paralympics and the ground-breaking techniques in rehabilitation he introduced. His vision and revolutionary work continues to this day at the NSIC at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Neil Macdonald, trust chief executive officer said: “After a year like no other, the Trust is keen to support a Paralympics Games like no other. This year especially our staff in the NSIC and across the entire Trust can identify with and appreciate the passion, resolve and determination of our Paralympic athletes to dig deep and perform to the very best of their ability. We thank them for the opportunity the Games provides to collectively cheer and applaud their efforts.

"We wish all Paralympians who carry Professor Guttmann’s legacy forward, the very best of luck at the Games.”

Within the spinal centre patients are encouraged to try out many of the sports that feature in the Paralympics as part of their rehabilitation programme. Physio-supported sessions

in the spinal gym and over at the Guttman Stadium are designed to help patients with spinal cord injuries build their strength and confidence.

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