Free event at Stoke Mandeville to mark the start of the Paralympics

The London 2012 mascot Mandeville, named after the birthplace of the Paralympics
The London 2012 mascot Mandeville, named after the birthplace of the Paralympics
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Up to 5,000 people will head to Stoke Mandveille Stadium tonight for a free community festival to mark the start of the Paralympic Games.

It runs from 6pm until 10pm and is being hailed as ‘the world’s first Paralympic opening night community festival’.

On offer will be inflatable games, opportunities to try Paralympic sports, a multi-sensory zone, art and craft activities, puppets and giant bubbles.

The Paralympic opening ceremony will be shown on a big screen, accompanied by a free barbecue.

It has been organised by the Aylesbury Churches Network – 14 churches of different denominations which are underwriting the costs and providing at least 200 volunteers on the night.

The event co-ordinator, Rev Martin Kuhrt, said: “Stoke Mandeville Stadium has been very supportive.

“The Aylesbury churches are working with More Than Gold, the agency helping churches use the games to serve their communities and visitors.

“Our festivals team and Paralympic task force have helped make sure those with disabilities will be the stars of the night.

“Along with the national disability charity, Through The Roof, we have also trained 80 local people to work with people with disabilities.”

The Aylesbury Churches Network is also running a community festival in Vale Park on Saturday which will include motorised bathtub racing.

Rev Kuhrt said: “This is the big society concept in action and the churches are doing it in partnership with local and national authorities and charities.

“We are particularly proud of the heritage of Stoke Mandeville and determined to celebrate it and demonstrate the core Paralympic values it represents.