The protracted five-year wait for the Paralympics is almost over, and Stoke Mandeville Stadium will be hosting its traditional torch lighting ceremony.
The internationally recognised ceremony is scheduled for August 19, as Stoke Mandeville will host part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay.
It is the fourth Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony to be held in Aylesbury.
As the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, Stoke Mandeville will welcome official Paralympic Torch Bearers. Whilst local sport and community groups will also be invited to the outdoor celebration of disability sport.
Ahead of the official events opening ceremony on August 24, an international five-day-long official Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay will span the globe.
A series of related events have been organised by the Bucks Council, Stoke Mandeville Stadium officials and other businesses to celebrate the special sporting event.
Walk the Plank will be hosting flag making workshops, suitable for ages 12+, in line with Buckinghamshire Culture’s Open Weekend (22–25 July).
The flags created will be used as decoration for the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony, with makers offered the opportunity to carry them as part of the event.
There are four workshops available to attend, all hosted at Alfred Rose Community Centre, Aylesbury on Friday 23 July and Saturday 24 July. More information including how to book a free space on a workshop can be found on the council's website.
Play Around the Parishes events are also planned all around the county between 22 July–27 August, the Council says.
The ‘Good Luck from Bucks!’ campaign hopes to encourage local communities, organisations and businesses to send their best wishes to the Paralympic athletes.
The Council is asking for people to record a message, take a photo with the ‘Good Luck from Bucks’ frame (which will be out and about at the Play Around the Parishes events). People can also get involved by creating their own artwork to show your support and celebrate Buckinghamshire’s Paralympic legacy.
Photographs and videos shared with Bucks Council on social media will be showcased at the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony. So people are encouraged to tag @BucksCouncil in their posts. More information on this campaign is available on the Council's website here.
Councillor Clive Harriss said: "It’s fantastic that we are able to recognise and celebrate Buckinghamshire as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement with another Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony.
“Already we have seen some inspiring community involvement thanks to Buckinghamshire students, with a keen eye for design and engineering, who worked with local outdoor arts company, Festive Road to create a new Paralympic Heritage Cauldron. This specially commissioned piece of work has now been completed and the cauldron will be an integral part of the Ceremony and wider heritage celebration event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay and future Paralympic Torch Relays.
“I’d like to encourage as many local families as possible to get involved with the creative flag making workshops and ‘Good Luck from Bucks!’ campaign over the summer, both unique and exciting opportunities to celebrate Buckinghamshire’s role in Paralympic history."
Due to the restrictions and impacts of the pandemic throughout the planning stages of the fourth Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony, Bucks Council has been unable to provide a ticket ballot for the event. Highlights of the Ceremony will however be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday 19 August for everyone to enjoy from the comfort of their home.
Martin McElhatton OBE, chief executive of WheelPower, said: “I am very proud of Stoke Mandeville’s unique Paralympic heritage, born from the invaluable work achieved by Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s National Spinal Injury Centre and at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as the movement grew.