Stoke Mandeville Games 1954: The First Parade of Nations

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

Prize Winners

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.


Winning Team

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

Javelin Throw

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)

2. Netherlands


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

Breaststroke                                                             Backstroke

1. A. Laughton (Southport)                                1. White (Thistle Foundation)

2. McGee (Chaseley)                                             2. McGee (Chaseley)

Men Complete Lesions Class C

Breaststroke                                                              Backstroke

1. W. Telsnig (Austria)                                          1. W. Telsnig (Austria)

2. McKenzie (Thistle Foundation)                   2. Tom Butler (Australia)

Men Incomplete Lesions Class B

Breaststroke                                                              Backstroke

1. Stamenkovic (Yugoslavia)                             1. Calder (Thistle Foundation)

2. Weizel (Germany)                                              2. Zinterman (Germany)


1. Zinterman (Germany)

2. Mera (Egypt)

Table Tennis

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.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s