Lords honour Paralympic pioneer Ludwig Guttman

By Jessica Elgot, July 5, 2012

A German-Jewish refugee who went on to found the Paralympics was celebrated at the House of Lords this week, with Paralympian medallists gathering to pay tribute.

Sir Ludwig Guttman was a pioneering neuroscientist who established the Stoke Mandeville games at the spinal injuries unit he founded, which went on to become the Paralympic Games.

A bust of Sir Ludwig was unveiled, which will be taken to every future Paralympics. Sculptor Mark Jackson, a former soldier wounded in a parachuting accident, said: "I tried to capture his upright manner, but I also wanted to give his eyes that kindness that he had in swathes. He had such a passion."

Three generations of the Guttman family celebrated his life and achievements at a reception hosted by Lord Patel and the Council for Assisting Academics, which helped Sir Ludwig flee Nazi Germany. Sir Ludwig, known as "Poppa" died in 1980, but both his children Dr Dennis Guttman and Eva Loeffler were at the reception. Ms Loeffler said: "My father had a dream that there would be an Olympics for people with disabilities. His legacy is 4,000 athletes who will be taking part in London 2012."

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who was paralysed at the age of seven, is a winner of 11 Paralympic golds. "Without him believing in what disabled people can do, I would never have had a career in sport, or be in the House of Lords," she said.

Last updated: 12:12pm, July 5 2012