Stoke Mandeville Games 1958: ‘Great Britain’ finally makes its debut

The Games of 1958 took place from Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th July1 and attracted around 250 competitors2,3 from twenty nations4 – a much more manageable number in terms of accommodation. The British team was by far the largest with 83 members3, who were selected at the first National Stoke Mandeville Games held at the hospital on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th June5. The next largest team was France with 33. Many of the smaller countries such as Malta, Israel and Finland only had about half a dozen athletes each3. The withdrawal of the World Veteran’s Federation funding may well have played a part in the drop in the number of nations competing as Portugal, Australia and Sweden were all unable to attend for financial reasons1. Nations competing for the first time included Lebanon, Northern Rhodesia, Uruguay and India. However, all these nations were actually represented by single patients based at Stoke Mandeville. Bizarrely, Chandra Rao of India is actually listed as a member of the British team qualifying for these Games6. It is likely that the organisers chose to re-list her as the sole member of the Indian team (she was from Madras) in order to prevent the number of competing nations dropping too far from the previous year’s peak of 24 competing nations. The Games cost £1,126 to put on and the sale of programmes and admission fees raised £210 meaning the Games had a net cost of £9167.

Nations Represented

Austria      Belgium         Finland          France      Germany       Great Britain   India          Israel               Italy               Lebanon  Malta               Netherlands     Northern Rhodesia        Norway        Pakistan         South Africa       Switzerland     Uruguay       USA             Yugoslavia

As well as the addition of Club Throwing to the sports programme archery saw the addition of two new rounds. For the more advanced archers there was the Albion round, which increased the maximum distance shot to 80 yards, with 36 arrows being shot at distances of 80, 60 and 50 yards. For the novice archery, as agreed at the previous year’s technical meeting, the Saint Nicholas Round was added, which involved shooting 48 arrows over 40 and then a further 36 arrows over 30 yards.

Sports: Archery          Club Throw     Dartchery        Javelin      Shot Putt         Snooker Swimming      Table Tennis    Wheelchair Basketball     Wheelchair Fencing

Demonstrations:        Club Swinging                   

In keeping with Dr Guttmann’s continual references to the Olympic Games 1958 saw the introduction of a preliminary activity to the Games similar to that of the torch relay that was first run at the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936. The relay for the Stoke Mandeville Games commenced on the Wednesday at 9am when the Lord Mayor of Manchester read out the message of the Games on the steps of the town hall from a specially prepared scroll. The Lord Mayor then handed the scroll to Leo Halford of the Lyme Green Settlement, who was the first of four ‘runners’ to carry the scroll on it’s way to the Games, either by car or by wheelchair. The scroll was next read out by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, who then handed it over to Frank Taylor of the Lodge Moor Spinal Unit for carriage to Birmingham. After a similar ceremony in Birmingham the scroll was handed to Tony Potter for carriage to London, where it was read out by the Lord Mayor of London on the steps of the Mansion House. Finally, it was handed to Dick Thompson of the Duchess of Gloucester House for carriage to Stoke Mandeville and the opening ceremony of the Games1. The scroll, composed by Dr Guttmann read:

“The aim of the Stoke Mandeville Games is to unite paralysed men and women from all parts of the world in an international sports movement and your spirit of true sportsmanship today will give hope and inspiration to thousands of paralysed people.

No greater contribution can be made to society by the paralysed than to help, through the medium of sport, to further friendship and understanding amongst nations3

Prize Winners


Albion Round (36 arrows at 80yds, 60yds, 50yds)

Highest Individual Score

1. Jim Laird (Great Britain) 612pts

2. A. Potter (Great Britain) 611pts

Windsor Round


1. Great Britain           

(Roy Jennings, Jim Laird, M. Sowden, J. Ross)         2563pts

2. Belgium                  

(Von Puymbroeck, Nemegheer, Claus, Dupont)         2095pts

Highest Individual Score: Roy Jennings (Great Britain) 703pts

Best Gold: M. Sowden (Great Britain)

Columbia Round

Winning Team: 

Great Britain (C. Bradley, J. Duggan, F. Hall, Diana Gubbins)    1828pts

Highest Individual Score: J. Duggan (Great Britain) 520pts

Best Gold: C. Bradley (Great Britain)

St Nicholas Round (48 arrows at 40yds, 36 arrows at 30yds)

Highest Individual Score

1. Finck (France) 574pts

2. Sanson (France) & A. Castella (Switzerland) 468pts

Highest Individual Ladies Score

1. Marie Sutton (Great Britain) 389pts

2. E. Payne (Great Britain) 382pts

Best Gold: Finck (France)


The fact that all the former spinal unit teams were now combined into two Great Britain teams meant that there were far fewer teams in the basketball competition this year. This allowed for the competition to revert to a league basis whereby every team played every other team. In the incomplete lesion event the USA once more managed to regain the title, apparently without any repeat of the previous year’s problems. In the complete lesion competition, despite losing to the French, the Great Britain team still managed to take the title by virtue of a superior points average8.

Class A – Complete Lesions

1. Great Britain (Swindlehurst, Todd, Platten, Moran, Wann, Gasgoyne, Thompson, Gibson, Foster, MacBride)

2. France (Arpin, Brondeau, Etienne, Reyland, Tamridger)

Class B – Incomplete Lesions

1. USA (Acca, Welgar, Mucci, D’Antonio, Mabee)

2. Netherlands (Van Ommen, Simons, Kruidenier, Jonsen, Hulmeester)

3. France

4. Great Britain (Toman, Cole, Thomas, Chadwick, Guthrie, Grundy, Scott, Frodshaw, Hinchcliffe, Hepple)

Club Throw

Class A

1. Great Britain (Dick Thompson, Frank Gilbertson)

2. Germany (H. Binner, A. Linderman)

Best Individual Throw: D. Thompson (Great Britain)  157ft 5ins

Class B

1. Germany (H. Binner, W. Prossl)

2. Great Britain (Hepple, Russ Scott)

Best Individual Throw: Saul Welgar (USA) 137ft 8ins


1. Great Britain (V. Whitford, C. Bradley, I. Cathcart, J. Coward)

2. Italy (Magrini, Balucci, Zarilli, Ruschione)


Winning Team

1. Great Britain (R. Everson, J. Brookes)

2. Italy (Rossi, Ruschione)

Individual Sabre

1. R. Everson (Great Britain)

2. J. Brookes (Great Britain)

Individual Ladies Foil

1. Gertrude MacFarlane (Great Britain)

2. Scutti (Italy)

Javelin Throw

Class A

1. USA (Percy Mabee, G. Carter)

2. Germany (W. Prossl, O. Jacobs)

Best Individual Throw: D. Thompson (Great Britain) 64ft 2.5ins

Class B

1. Great Britain (D. Thompson, R. Scott)

2. Italy (Nicolini, Rossi)

Best Individual Throw: D. Thompson (Great Britain) 66ft 2.5ins

Shot Putt

Class A

1. Germany (W. Prossl, O. Jacob)

2. Malta (C. Markham, A. Testa)

Best Individual Throw: W. Prossl (Germany) 22ft 3ins

Class B

1. Netherlands (D. Kruidenier, S. Ommen)

2. Great Britain (D. Thompson, C. Thomas)

Best Individual Throw: D. Kruidenier (Netherlands) 24ft 1in


1. Cliff Keaton (Great Britain)

2. Arthur Poulter (Great Britain)


 No full results available. Known results:

Winning Team on points

1= Great Britain & Germany

Junior Boys Challenge Cup: Eskild Hansen (Norway)

Junior Girls Challenge Cup: Chandra Rao (India) and Val Forder (Great Britain)

Table Tennis


Class A:          

1. Jacobs (Netherlands)                      

2. Taylor (Great Britain)

Class B:          

1. Phillips (Great Britain)        

2. Abeles (Israel)

Class C:          

1. Yap Soen Lie (Netherlands)

2. Swindlehurst (Great Britain)


Class A:

1. Taylor & Wilson (Great Britain)   

2. D. Hare (South Africa) & J. Peroni (Uruguay)

Class B:

1. Lustig & Abeles (Israel)                         

2. Zarilli & Balucchi (Italy)

Class C:

1. Swindlehurst & Murrell (Great Britain)

2. Welgar & Foley (USA) 

The International Society for the Care of Cripples Challenge Cup for the Best Team competing at ‘The Games’

1. Great Britain 245pts

2. USA 107pts

Guests of Honour

Guests of Honour for the Games of 1958 included Mr R.M.H. Thompson, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Health, who officially opened the Games; Mr W. Ch. J. M. Van Lanschot, President of the World Veteran’s Federation, who took the salute during the wheel-past of nations and the actor Kenneth More, who presented the prizes4. During his speech Mr More apparently claimed he had happily accepted the invitation to attend for two reasons. Firstly, he had recently portrayed the World War II flying ace Douglas Bader in the film ‘Reach for the Sky’. And, secondly, he had once been standing peacefully on a mountain in Switzerland when someone had skied into him and broken his back, although fortunately without damaging his spinal cord9.

One individual who made a major impact upon everyone competing at the Games was a young German polio victim, Berndt, who hitch-hiked all the way from Berlin to Stoke Mandeville in order to support his team1.

The technical meeting of trainers was once again held on the Sunday morning after the Games in order to discuss various proposals and issues pertinent to the following year’s Games. In the end there were only two major decisions affecting the next year’s Games that were passed:

  1. That the following new classification system, as suggested by the trainers at the meeting, be adopted for the Games of 1959:

Class A – Cervicals to C7 (inc)

Class B – C8 – T6 (inc)

Class C – T7 to T10 (inc) (complete and incomplete lesions)

Class D – T11 to L2 (inc)

Class E – Cauda Equina

  1. That the overall points scoring system for the various competitions to decide the winner of the International Society for the Care of Cripples Challenge Cup for the Best Team competing at ‘The Games’ be scrapped as it had not proved satisfactory. In its place a Pentathlon event would be introduced made up of five of the sports currently on the Games programme1.


1. Scruton, J., 1958, The 1958 International Stoke Mandeville Games, in The Cord, Vol. 10(4); p. 12-30.

2. Bucks Free Press, Courage Triumphs Over Handicap, Friday 1st August; p. 1.

3. Bucks Herald, 1958, Stoke Wheelchair Sports, Friday 1st August; p. 5.

4. Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News, 1958, Britain Fared Well In The Wheel-Chair Games, Friday 1st August; p. 16.

5. The Cord, 1958, Stoke Mandeville Calling with a preview of the 1958 Stoke Mandeville Games, Vol. 10(2); p. 10-11.

6. The Cord, 1958, Competitors qualifying for the British team for 1958 International Stoke Mandeville Games, Vol. 10(3); p. 30-32.

7. Paraplegic Sports Endowment Fund, 1959, Fourth Annual Report and Abstract of Accounts 1958-1959 (IWAS Archives)

8. Toman, B., 1958, Inside Story, in The Cord, Vol. 10(4); p. 31-33.

9. Star & Garter Magazine, 1958, International Sports 1958, October; p. 16.


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