The British Paraplegic Sports Endowment Fund

Slowly, but surely, the Stoke Mandeville Games were becoming a victim of their own success. In the four years since the Games had become truly international in nature in 1952 they had grown from 130 participants from two nations to 280 participants from 18 nations. The increasing cost of putting the Games on combined with the problems of housing all the athletes and officials led to the announcement by Dr Guttmann at the Games of 1955 that the future of the Games was in danger. This was partly due to the fact the small local Paraplegic Sports Fund had become insufficient to meet the rising costs of putting on the Games and this was exacerbated by the fact that the World Veteran’s Federation had announced that they would be unable to continue the generous financial assistance they had previously given to help get the Games established. In addition, the Games had previously used vacant hospital wards to host visiting participants, but these were rapidly filling up with patients and so were unlikely to be available for future Games making accommodation a key issue.

The announcement by Dr Guttmann at the Games of 1955 that the future of the Games was in danger caused Mr J.C.A. Faure, a spectator at those Games and father of one of the physiotherapists at Stoke Mandeville, to approach Dr Guttmann in order to see what could be done to rectify the situation. Mr Faure, a successful businessman with Unilever and also President of the Principal Oil Seed, Oils and Fats Trade Association, had discussions with Dr Guttmann as to the best way forward and on 15th November 1955 a group of interested individuals gathered at Stoke Mandeville with a view to setting up a Paraplegics Sports Endowment Fund in order to put the future of the Games on a firm financial footing. In order to do this it was decided that a sum of not less than £60,000 would be required. As Dr Guttmann had previously done in inviting politicians and celebrities to distribute prizes at the Games, the first thing that was done to try and gain the confidence and support of the public for the new fund was to attract well-known personalities to associate themselves with the aims of the fund. As can be seen from the list below that list read like a page from Debrett’s or Who’s who?

Patron

The Marquess of Carisbrooke

Vice-Patrons

Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma

Field Marshall Sir and Lady Gerald W.R. Templer

Air Chief Marshall Sir and Lady Dermot A. Boyle

President

Sir Arthur E. Porritt

Vice Presidents

Rt Hon Lord Cohen of Birkenhead

Rt Hon Lord Webb-Johnson

Sir Geoffrey Jefferson

Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke

Sir Reginald Watson-Jones

Right Reverend Lord Bishop of London

Viscount Leverhulme

W.J. Everard

Niels Max Jensen

Ralph Tadman

A management board was set up with Mr Faure as its Chairman, Dr Guttmann as the Vice-Chairman with the other members being co-opted from the now defunct Paraplegic Sports Fund, whose remaining funds were transferred to the newly titled British Paraplegic Sports Endowment Fund. The appeal was launched in March 1956 with an open letter published in The Times newspaper and signed by many of the eminent individuals named above. The Marquess of Carisbrooke also wrote directly to many large industrial and commercial organisations. The result of this appeal was that a total of £13,114 was raised by the end of September that year. By the end of September 1959 the appeal had raised £40,954.

However, in order to ensure the Games of 1956 could take place it was decided that it would be necessary to build a further two accommodation huts in addition to the two completed for the 1955 Games. It was estimated that this would cost approximately £6,000 and without knowing whether the appeal would be successful or not, Mr Faure and his business associates guaranteed the whole £6,000 in order that building work could begin immediately.

The Fund itself and the money it generated were used in a variety of ways. These include:

  1. New accommodation huts
  2. Erection of temporary stands for spectators
  3. Running costs of the Games themselves
  4. Purchase of sports equipment for paraplegics who had left hospital and were now living at home
  5. Financing paraplegic teams and individuals to take part in sports events at home and abroad
  6. Grants to The Cord, the journal for paraplegics

Sources

Paraplegic Sports Endowment Fund, 1956, First Annual Report and Abstract of Accounts 1955-1956 (IWAS Archives)

 

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