Retired but still active

Photo:Guttmann attends the Queen at the opening of the sports centre in 1969

Guttmann attends the Queen at the opening of the sports centre in 1969

photo E Loeffler

Following his retirement from the Spinal Injuries Centre in 1966, Guttmann continued to be heavily involved with the Games and also the national and international organisations, both sports and medical.  In 1969, following fundraising in order to cover the costs of the building works, a new sports centre was opened by the Queen on the Stoke Mandeville Hospital grounds (later renamed ‘Ludwig Guttmann Sports Centre for the Disabled’ after his death).

As well as the Games side of his work, he continued to travel and lecture on spinal injuries all over the world, continuing to educate and influence others with his theories and methods.  However, it was his leadership of the disabled sports organisations that he was involved with that occupied him through the late 1960s and 1970s.  It was in the 1970s that Guttmann spear-headed the conversations with the International Olympic Committee about the use of the term ‘Olympic’ and the name of the various organisations – conversations that directly led the way to the close relationship with the IOC and the later establishment of the International Paralympic Committee.

Photo: Illustrative image for the '1966-1980' page
"I think Sir Ludwig just changed the world for us; it was a complete step change... He came in, he had a vision... As far as disability and disabled sport was concerned he did change the world" Caz Walton, patient of Guttmanns and subsequent GB athlete at 5 Paralympic Games.

Watch Caz Walton's tribute to Sir Ludwig here 

Photo:'Poppa' Guttmann and Joan Scruton

'Poppa' Guttmann and Joan Scruton

photo IWAS

Keith Delderfield worked at the new Stoke Mandeville sports centre from when it opened in 1969, with 'just nine staff and a mighty big band of volunteers':

"They were pioneering days back then. “Poppa” Guttmann, he was a real fireball. My office was next door to him and Joan Scruton and they were two of the most dedicated and inspirational people I have ever worked for. They totally believed in what they were doing and in the importance of sport in rehabilitation. Working alongside them I became totally indoctrinated into their beliefs and the spirit of the place."


Sir Ludwig Guttmann died on the 18th March 1980 of heart failure following a heart attack some months before.  He did not live to see his vision realised, but his work continues through the current disabled sports organisations and through the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, which continues to be a world leader in the treatment of spinal injuries.

This page was added on 06/04/2011.

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