Bucks 2012 legacy sprints into action

Paralympic Flame Celebration in Aylesbury town centre - the torch arrives in Market Square
Paralympic Flame Celebration in Aylesbury town centre - the torch arrives in Market Square

It may be hard to remember in the depths of winter, but not long ago we were basking in the glory of a triumphant London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic summer.

That buzz and excitement created by seeing athletes from around the UK and Bucks succeed is something we did not want to end, even though it eventually had to.

But those responsible for delivering one of the London bid’s main promises - a long-term sporting, economic and social legacy - are hard at work making sure the momentum is not lost. Here in Bucks, seven legacy aims and priorities have been set out to ensure that promise is delivered.

Central to this is making the best possible use of the Stoke Mandeville brand and the Paralympic heritage.

Ian Barham, the Bucks 2012 legacy manager, said: “Nowhere else in the world can say ‘this is where the second biggest sporting movement started’. We should use that as a real sense of pride.”

Ensuring the Paralympic flame is lit at Stoke Mandeville Stadium before every Games is one way of doing this and discussions are ongoing to make it happen.

There are also plans for a permanent exhibition at the stadium or in the Aylesbury area so more people can learn about the region’s Paralympic history.

Promoting Bucks as a base for major international events and developing a strong focus for disability sport is another key objective. The county already hosts a series of international events at Silverstone, Eton Dorney and Stoke Mandeville, but the list is expected to grow.

The first of these is a games for ex-servicemen at Stoke Mandeville, due to take place in August. This will be a national event at first, but Mr Barham hopes it will eventually draw international participants.

A permanent sporting, cultural and health legacy for Bucks is also sought. Since the 2012 programme began 19,000 more people in the county have begun doing sport each week.

Mr Barham said: “We want to continue to build on that and not drop off the cliff. We want people to engage in sport and an active lifestyle in all environments, be it the workplace, at school or in their own time.”

Another aim is to make Bucks an accessible and welcoming destination for visitors, including through public transport, and Mr Barham admits there is plenty of work to be done here. He said: “Things are not perfect but we will make things better where we can.”

Bucks’ three other goals are to drive inward investment, job creation and enterprise, develop a framework for enhancing volunteering and community support and continue to inspire and educate a generation.

London 2012 may be over, but its work is far from done.