This film is part of Free

Percy Hedley School

Being wheelchair users is not a barrier to these children doing slaloms or throwing javelins, gaining confidence and changing perceptions.

News 1970 17 mins Not rated


From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


At the pioneering Percy Hedley school for children with cerebral palsy, children practice a variety of sports and compete in the North East Spastic Games at Cochrane Park in Newcastle. Head Teacher David Johnston outlines the progressive principles of the school, and points to European champion Dennis Stokes, demonstrating his considerable skills in a wheelchair, as an example. He is backed up by coach Alan Brown, who points out the benefits of sport for the children.

Percy Hedley School was set up by a group of parents in 1953, with help from the Percy Hedley Foundation, especially for children with cerebral palsy. Several years previously, in 1948, neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann, based at the rehabilitation unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, organised a competition for war veterans with spinal injuries to coincide with the London Olympics. This became established in 1960 in Rome, becoming the Paralympics in 1964. This is the background that helped form the vision of Percy Hedley School, which continues today. The word ‘spastic’, originally a medical term, became increasingly seen as a derogatory one and generally ceased to be acceptable in the 1980s.