This film is part of Free

My Stoke Mandeville Story - June 1960 - April 1961

Stoke Mandeville Hospital, birthplace of the Paralympic Games, hosts its 1960 sports jamboree - with basketball, archery and weight lifting

Amateur film 1960 23 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


This remarkable film, made by former nurse Jean McIlwaine, shows hospital buildings, medical staff and their patients, many of whom use wheelchairs. Christmas celebrations are followed by the 1960 Stoke Mandeville Games, where competitors participate in a variety of sports including wheelchair basketball, archery and weight lifting. Sir Ludwig Guttman, who inspired the modern Paralympic movement, is seen as well as the USA wheelchair basketball team.

Ludwig Guttman was a German-Jewish neurosurgeon who fled Nazism and settled in the UK. He was the director of a specialist spinal Injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital - one of twelve set up around the country in 1944. His revolutionary approach to treatment encouraged patients to participate in physical and mental activities such as sport. Wheelchair polo and later, basketball became very popular. On the 29th July 1948, on the same day the very London Olympics opened, Guttman organised an archery competition for 16 injured servicemen and women, predicting that this event, which he called the Stoke Mandeville Games, would become the basis for a disabled people’s version of the Olympics.