Aylesbury Vale and the growth of the Paralympics part 2: Ensuring Finmere's contribution is never forgotten

The second instalment of our look back at the heavy local influence on the history of the Paralympic movement
1960 Donkey Derby1960 Donkey Derby
1960 Donkey Derby

Last week, we told you about the origins of the Finmere Show, which took place for the first time in 1959 under the name, The Sally Haynes Show.

The first show was a fundraiser for the young steeplechaser, Sally Haynes, who required modifications to her home after becoming paralysed following a horse jumping accident.

This week we’ll start sharing some stories gathered by the project from people who attended the show. Central to this project is the coming together of generations to share memories, photographs and stories about the Finmere Show and this incredible community effort that took place here on our doorsteps. Through informal sharing and investigation, we will ensure that Finmere’s contribution to the Paralympic Games is never forgotten.

The Finmere show 1960 newspaper clippingThe Finmere show 1960 newspaper clipping
The Finmere show 1960 newspaper clipping

If you have any memories you’d like to share then please get in touch with the Trust’s Learning Officer, Fiona Darling-Glinski.

In the mid 1970s, Karen Szczypek was an 8-year-old child living in Tingewick. She was horse mad so was thrilled when local character, Lady Elizabeth Keyes offered to take her to the show. Karen says, ‘The thing I remember most was the Donkey Derby. How some top jockeys rode bareback on donkeys around a course trying not to fall off. If they did, it was straight back on, trying to win. There was a lot of pushing and pulling between riders, all in good fun. It was absolutely one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.’ Amazingly, Karen now works at Hill Leys looking after the horses, where the show was originally held!

Whoever we spoke to seems to remember the Donkey Derby, recalling the laughter and huge crowds the event brought. It was clear it provided some of the most popular entertainment at the show. Entry requirements were tough, participants were required to have competed in the Grand National or Epsom Derby to race in the Donkey Derby. The event saw jockeys attempting to control the donkeys, round the course of three ‘jumps’ made of straw bales – no mean feat and most of them were thrown off!

The NPHT was established in 2015 to share British Paralympic heritage and are running the ‘Stories from Finmere’ project thanks to joint-funding through the ‘Stories from Buckinghamshire’ project supported by the HS2 Community Fund and the Thriving Communities Grant and the ‘New Stories, New Audiences’ project which is funded by the Association of Independent Museums (AiM).

Related topics: