Britain's first Paralympic gold medallist, inspired while rehabilitating in Aylesbury, dies aged 91

Britain's first Paralympic gold medallist who was rehabilitated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital following a car accident has sadly died at the age of 91.

By Sam Dean
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 4:42 pm

Margaret Maughan was paralysed after a car accident in Malawi in 1959, but during her recovery at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury she was encouraged to take up archery.

She went on to win the gold medal for Great Britain at the 1960 Rome Paralympics the following year. For good measure, she also won gold in the 50 metre backstroke.

Margaret won two more gold medals – one in dartchery at the 1972 Paralympics in Heidelberg and one in lawn bowls at the 1980 Paralympics in Arnheim. She won two silver medals in Toronto in 1976.

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Margaret Maughan lighting the Olympic flame in 2012

In 2012, Margaret lit the flame at the London Paralympics opening ceremony.

A spokesperson for Wheelpower, who provide opportunities for disabled people to get into sport and lead active lives, said: “Margaret was one of the pioneers of Paralympic Sport, winning Britain’s first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960 in archery. Margaret was a shining light and a wonderful example to other disabled people of how to live a full and active life after a spinal cord injury. Margaret’s sparkling personality and verve meant she was unique and special to so many people and she will be greatly missed by all within the Paralympic movement.”

Stoke Mandeville is known as the birthplace of the Paralympics after the first competition for patients with spinal injuries took place there in 1948, organised by neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury
Margaret Maughan receiving a gold medal (left) and competing in archery (right)