Stoke Mandeville Hospital has an epic backstory which tells of hope, disaster and triumph in adversity. Established in the 1830s to treat a cholera epidemic, it is now key medical establishment for the NHS, and the birthplace of the Paralympics. Unfortunately, it has had many scandals involving the treatment of children, including a chapter in the dark story of disgraced former DJ Jimmy Savile.
The Paralympic history stems from its establishment in 1943 as the National Spinal Injuries Centre, where it treated many service personnel returning from the battle lines of the Second World War. Dr Ludwig Guttmann, who established the centre and was its first director, was the visionary who saw the importance of sport for this group, instigated the project to build the Stoke Mandeville Stadium, and launched the Stoke Mandeville Games on the opening day of the 1948 London Olympics. An international version took place four years later, and gradually this morphed into the Paralympic Games as we know them today.
The hospital is located in Aylesbury, which has expanded to encompass the former village location. It is conveniently situated for access from the A418 and A41, there is ample parking on site and a range of facilities you would expect from a modern hospital site. These include a restaurant, café and shop, cash point and post box.
In addition to the Spinal Injuries Centre (redeveloped in 1983 and opened by Princess Diana) there is an Accident and Emergency department, critical care, extensive maternity and neonatal facilities, ophthalmology, audiology and day-care and outpatient services as well as being the hub for local nursing care. The hospital provides chaplains and pastoral care, including the ability to provide chaplains for specific faiths upon request. The hospital provides a well-regarded radio service, one of the original two hospital stations to be granted an AM license, and its patron is Ken Bruce of Pop master fame.