The Games of 1954 were held on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st July1. However, media and other written coverage of this year’s Games appears to be quite sparse. In his opening address Dr Guttmann informed those present that a telegram had been sent to the Queen ‘conveying on behalf of all participants their loyal greetings2’ to which the Queen had apparently responded with her thanks and had sent best wishes for the success of the Games.
This year also saw the addition of eight new stars on the Games flag, representing the participation of athletes from eight new countries since the Games became truly international in 1952. Some of these nations were represented by patients based at Stoke Mandeville e.g. Tom Butler, a paralysed farmer from Western Australia3, whilst others were represented by small teams of athletes attending specifically for the Games. What is slightly strange about this is that Tom Butler had competed in the previous year’s Games, but no mention of Australia as a nation had been made, nor had a star been added to the Games flag to represent their participation. It is likely, however, that this was done in an attempt to make the Games more newsworthy and increase interest in them.
International Nations Represented
Australia Austria Belgium Canada Egypt Finland France Germany Israel Pakistan Portugal Netherlands Yugoslavia
British Organisations and Institutions
Chaseley Home, Eastbourne, Sussex
Duchess of Gloucester House, Isleworth, Middlesex
Spinal Injuries Unit, GeneralHospital, Hexham, Northumberland
Lyme Green Settlement, Macclesfield, Cheshire
National Spinal Injuries Unit, Stoke Mandeville
Stoke Mandeville ‘Old Boys’
Stoke Mandeville ‘Old Girls’
National Spinal Injuries Unit, Stoke Mandeville (Ladies’ Team)
No. 3 PolishHospital, Penley, Denbighshire
Spinal Injuries Unit, PromenadeHospital, Southport, Lancashire
Star and Garter Home, Richmond, Surrey
Thistle Foundation, Edinburgh, Scotland
Ministry of Health Spinal Injuries Unit, Rookwood, Cardiff, Wales
Dartchery was promoted to full sport status this year and in addition the sport of wheelchair fencing was demonstrated to those present by a patient from the Rookwood Centre in Wales and his non-disabled instructor, apparently watched by a large and appreciative audience2.
Sports: Archery Dartchery Javelin Netball Snooker
Swimming Table Tennis
Demonstrations: Club Swinging Wheelchair Fencing
As with the media and other written coverage of this year’s Games the results of this year are not as full or complete as other years. The results shown here are a compilation from a variety of sources.
1. Stoke Mandeville Old Boys South (R. Robinson, J. Irvine, L. Johnson, J. Coward) 1835 pts
2. Penley (S. Nowak, P. Czajkowski, W. Ruzke, Rykaczeczwski)
Highest Individual Score: A. Hill (Duchess of Gloucester House) 524pts
Highest Individual Ladies Score: Mrs Pamela Russell (Stoke Mandeville) 415pts
Highest Individual Score by an Old Boy or Old Girl: John Coward 506pts
Highest Individual Score by an Overseas Visitor: H. Van Puymbroeck (Belgium) 467pts
Highest Individual Score from Stoke Mandeville Team: Jim Laird 499pts
Highest Individual Score from Duchess of Gloucester House Team: A. Hill 524pts
Best Gold of the Day: J. Rochon (Canada)
Winning Team: Duchess of Gloucester House
Class A: Hexham (D.B. Thompson & A. Jackson) 90ft 7ins
Class B: Hexham (D.B. Thompson & J. Crosby) 94ft 9ins
For the sixth year in a row the ‘Red Devils’ of the Lyme Green Settlement proved too strong for the opposition in the netball competition. It should also be noted that it was in this year that the netball competition began its transformation into what was to later become wheelchair basketball with the addition of a backboard to the netball posts that allowed for re-bounded shots to score.
1. Lyme Green (J. Shiel, J. Hooker, A. Smith, T. Moran, G. Swindlehurst)
1. Arthur Poulter (Stoke Mandeville)
2. A. Raftery (Southport)
Team Points Score: Thistle Foundation, Edinburgh
Junior Challenge Cup
1. Ann Masson (Stoke Mandeville)
2. Val Forder (Stoke Mandeville)
Ladies Breaststroke: Jan Laughton (Stoke Mandeville)
Ladies Backstroke: Joan ‘Bunty’ Noon (Stoke Mandeville)
Ladies Crawl: D. Cornwall (Stoke Mandeville)
Men Complete Lesions Class B
1. A. Laughton (Southport) 1. White (Thistle Foundation)
2. McGee (Chaseley) 2. McGee (Chaseley)
Men Complete Lesions Class C
1. W. Telsnig (Austria) 1. W. Telsnig (Austria)
2. McKenzie (Thistle Foundation) 2. Tom Butler (Australia)
Men Incomplete Lesions Class B
1. Stamenkovic (Yugoslavia) 1. Calder (Thistle Foundation)
2. Weizel (Germany) 2. Zinterman (Germany)
1. Zinterman (Germany)
2. Mera (Egypt)
Once again the two Syds from the Star and Garter Home, with their bats securely bandaged to their hands proved too strong for the opposition in both the Class A and Class B doubles events. For the first time, however, Syd Pratt rather than Syd Taylor was victorious in the Class A singles event.
Class A: S. Pratt & S. Taylor (Star and Garter)
Class B: E. Rangger (Austria)
Class C: W. Pollock (D of G House)
Class A: S. Pratt (Star and Garter)
Class B: S. Pratt & S. Taylor (Star and Garter)
Class C: E. Rangger & W. Telsnig (Austria)
Guests of Honour
Guests of Honour at the 1954 Games were Iain Macleod, Minister of Health, Lord Burghley, British IOC member and President of the International Amateur Athletics Federation and Elliott Newcomb, Secretary General of the World Veteran’s Federation. Also in attendance was the South Korean Minister of Social Affairs, Mr Koo Cha Hun, who was visiting Stoke Mandeville to learn more about the rehabilitation techniques used there2,4. In keeping with his constant references to and use of Olympic practices Dr Guttmann introduced a ‘Parade of Nations’ this year, which commenced at 5.45pm on the Saturday evening. The participants paraded past a specially constructed saluting base occupied by Iain Macleod and Lord Burghley and completed the parade at prize giving area, where each of the guests gave a speech before Lord Burghley presented the prizes.
The Minister of Pensions reported that the disappearance of the Ministry of Pensions the previous year, to be replaced by the Ministries of Health and National Insurance had raised concerns about what would happen to spinal injuries units such as those at Stoke Mandeville. He assured those present that in no way would the work of such units be interrupted5. Mr Elliot Newcomb of the World Veteran’s Federation, whose financial help made the International Stoke Mandeville Games possible6, claimed that in the Stoke Mandeville Games had been found ‘something that is common to all nations, something that crosses all national boundaries and can further better international relationships4’. Before presenting the prizes Lord Burghley stated that it had been a remarkable day, underlining the enthusiasm and comradeship of those taking part4 and that the good name of Stoke Mandeville was spreading like wildfire all over the world2.
The day was concluded by a get-together and concert in the gymnasium in the evening at which Major Jan Linzel, from the Netherlands, presented the remaining prizes and medals6.
1. Bucks Herald, 1954, All Ready for the Stoke Mandeville Games, Friday 30th July; p. 7.
2. The Cord, 1954, International Games, Stoke Mandeville, Vol. 7(2); p. 7-14.
3. The Cord, 1962, The First Ten Years of the International Stoke Mandeville Games for the Paralysed, Vol. 14(4); p. 30-38.
4. Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News, 1954, Stoke Mandeville’s “Paralympics”, Friday 6th August; p. 8
5. Bucks Herald, 1954, 14 Nations in wheelchair Olympics at Stoke, Friday 6th August; p. 8.
6. The Cord, 1954, News from the Spinal Centres: Stoke Mandeville Calling, Vol. 7(2); p. 37-40.