Petition to rename former Savile cafe after father of the Paralympics (because Cafe@WRVS hardly rolls off the tongue)

Sir Ludwig Guttmann with the Queen at the opening of the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in 1969.  From Laura Cotton Archives and Local Studies Manager (Senior Archivist) and Project Manager: Mandeville LegacyCentre for Buckinghamshire Studies
Sir Ludwig Guttmann with the Queen at the opening of the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in 1969. From Laura Cotton Archives and Local Studies Manager (Senior Archivist) and Project Manager: Mandeville LegacyCentre for Buckinghamshire Studies
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A disabled man has started a petition to name the National Spinal Injuries Centre cafe after Paralympics founder Ludwig Guttmann.

The cafe was originally named Jimmy’s after the late Jimmy Savile but following the national outcry when he was outed as one of the country’s most prolific paedophiles, the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, which runs the cafe, renamed it Cafe@WRVS.

But tetraplegic Mike McKenzie, founder of the Poppa Guttmann Trust, said people at the hospital have reverted to calling it Jimmy’s again and that it should be called Poppa’s as he had originally proposed.

He said: “Cafe@WRVS doesn’t trip off the tongue.”

“It’s just one of those things that having removed the name they have come up with a name that doesn’t catch on.”

Mr McKenzie previously wrote to WRVS championing calling the cafe Poppa’s but with little luck.

He added: “We’ll see what happens and see if we can get them to wake up.

“The petition is about amassing some support and then writing to them again.”

WRVS runs cafes in hospitals throughout the country all with the same name but Mr McKenzie said it is important for Stoke Mandeville to retain its individuality.

Chief executive of disability charity WheelPower, Martin McElhatton, said: “I think Poppa’s is a highly appropriate name for it.

“I think it’s important a name is found to reflect going forward rather than just the past.

“If we can do that by using the one name synonymous with the spinal unit that would be great.

“Within our community people will know Ludwig and were involved with early years of the spinal unit.

“It’s a great way of celebrating all that he did.”

Mr McElhatton said it was particularly important to recognise the long term affinity people had for the spinal unit.

“It’s a unique place, People stay in the unit a lot longer because of their rehab.”

Savile’s years of abuse spanned more than five decades, with 22 offences reported over 23 years at Stoke Mandeville where he had his own flat on site.

The DJ was widely revered for his charitable work, which included helping raising more than £40 million for the National Spinal Injuries Centre.

WRVS said it has no plans to change the name of the cafe in future.