RAF Halton supported the Flame Lighting Festival and Torch Relay to mark the beginning of the Paralympic Games 2012 on the 31st August 2012.
With a ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the National Centre for Disability Sport, flames from London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff were combined to produce the Paralympic Flame which then began a 24-hour relay into London. A neighbour of RAF Halton, Stoke Mandeville has very strong links to the military. The hospital was originally set up to deal with war casualties suffering from spinal cord injuries and in 1948 the ‘Stoke Mandeville Games’ were founded with 16 ex-members of the British Forces.
The Halton Area Voluntary Band, who are very active within the local community, entertained the 2000 strong crowd at the stadium and played a fanfare whilst the flame was lit, whilst 20 servicemen from the Station lined part of the route as the torch made its way from the stadium toward Aylesbury. Michael Pegram, Bandmaster said: “We’re very proud to have been asked to do this. We’ve played music for the Paralympic Games in the past, so to do so again is a great honour.”
The Acting Station Commander, Wing Commander Michelle Tinworth said: “Despite advances in equipment and post-traumatic medical care across the board, it is a cold reality that some servicemen and women will suffer a disability as a result of injuries sustained whilst deployed on Operations. To be able to support the Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium is an honour for RAF Halton, not just in support of a neighbouring organisation but in recognition of the military history of Stoke Mandeville and in support of ex-service Paralympic athletes.”
In the town centre the crowds also enjoyed the ceremony viewed on huge screens whilst waiting for the flame to arrive. Several ex-Service personnel were amongst the athletes competing in London 2012, no doubt buoyed up in the knowledge that current and former UK Forces personnel across the country were cheering them on.