When was a flame ceremony first connected with the Stoke Mandeville/ Paralympic Games?

Having been researching the history of the Stoke Mandeville and Paralympic Games for over ten years I spent many years believing that the the very first time a flame ceremony occurred in connection with the Stoke Mandeville or Paralympic Games was in Toronto in 1976 when the flame was lit by three different Canadian participants representing the three impairment groups participating in the Games. They were Joanne McDonald (Wheelchair athlete and table tennis player), Dave Wall (Blind athlete and swimmer) and Hans Noe (Amputee swimmer).

However, on a research trip to Perth in Australia a few years ago one of the former Australian Paralympians I met who had competed in the 1950s and 1960s showed me the photo below, showing part of the 1957 Stoke Mandeville Games Opening Ceremony. I believe that the gentleman apparently lighting the cauldron may be Sir Arthur Porritt who also took the salute at the wheelpast of nations in 1957. This ceremony may have been prompted by the award of the Fearnley Cup to the Stoke Mandeville Games, which had been handed to Dr Guttmann by Sir Arthur in a ceremony in London in  January of that year. Dr Guttmann, who had been promoting a link between the Olympic movement and the Stoke Mandeville Games almost from the start may, therefore, have decided to increase the links between the Games, having already introduced a parade of nations in 1954. It is strange, however, that this part of the ceremony appears to go unmentioned in newspaper reports and those in The Cord, which was the quarterly newsletter produced at Stoke Mandeville and sent to Paraplegics worldwide. However, at present this is all just conjecture and I will continue to investigate historical mysteries such as these until I, or someone else solves them!

Stoke Mandeville Games Flame Ceremony 1957


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