Britain’s Olympic Greats – Davina Ingrams, Baroness Darcy de Knayth, DBE

Labour Party

Davina Ingrams is not only holds a gold medal for swimming, but was used her position of influence as a member of the House of Lords to help start the Paralympics.

Davina was born in 1938, the daughter of Mervyn Herbert, 17th Baron Darcy de Knayth.  She inherited the barony in 1943, when her father was killed in action during the Second World War, flying in the RAF.

Davina was educated at St Mary’s School, Wantage, and later in Florence and the Sorbonne. She married publisher Rupert Ingrams in 1960 and had three children.

Tragedy struck only a few years later when Davina and her husband were involved in a serious accident, returning from a dance, when their car hit a tree. Rupert Ingrams was killed outright, and she was paralysed from the neck down. She was treated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and later recovered some movement in her upper body.

Davina became a wheelchair user, and took up table tennis and archery. She decided to become involved in campaigning for disabled rights and was soon one of the leading voices in the campaign that led to the creation of the Paralympic Games.

Not only did she help create the Paralympics, but she successfully competed in them.  She won a gold medal in swimming at the 1968 Summer Paralympics inIsrael, and a bronze for table tennis at the 1972 Games in West Germany.

Davina continued to be a pioneer away from the sporting arena when she became one of the first 16 hereditary peeresses admitted to the House of Lords in 1963.  She used her position within the House of Lords to speak on disabled rights.  This led in 1996 to her being made a Dame (DBE) for her services to disabled people in 1996.