Britain’s Paralympic Greats – Margaret Maughan

Labour Party

Margaret Maughan has the impressive distinction of winning Britain’s first Paralympic Gold medal at the inaugural Paralympic Games in Rome 1960 in Archery. She went on to compete in four further Paralympic Games, winning a number of further medals.

It was in Malawi that Margaret first encountered archery, watching ‘an eccentric Englishman’ firing arrows from a bow on a lush, green golf course in 1959.  She had no idea at this point that she would be creating British history doing something very similar 12 months later.

Margaret had been working as a teacher in Nyasaland, now Malawi, the landlocked country in south-east Africa, when she was involved in a very serious car crash.  The Foreign Office transported her back to the UK for further treatment, where she was admitted into the Stoke Mandeville hospital, the spiritual home of the Paralympic movement, specialising in spinal injuries for injured soldiers from the Second World War.

Margaret started archery as part of a gym session with her physiotherapist.  She said that the “treatment was centred around being as active as you could possibly be.”

Speaking to Channel 4 in the build-up to this years Paralympic games in London, she discussed her journey to becoming Britain’s first gold medalists:

“When you first become paralysed you lose your balance, you can’t feel how you are sitting.  The archery was brilliant because it made you sit up straight in your wheelchair, you had to spread your arms out and strengthen your shoulders. I enjoyed it and I was quite good at it.  I started purely for rehabilitation. I was given a bow and arrows when I left hospital and returned to my family in Lancashire. I found an archery club in Preston and they were very kind to me, they never had a member in a wheelchair before. I did it more as a social thing to get to know people.”

“I didn’t realise I was going to Rome, but I got this letter inviting me to compete in archery and swimming, for which I was very bad at. But we had a go at everything in those days.  In the space of 12 months, I was doing archery in the hospital to winning gold in Rome. I didn’t think I had made history, I knew I had won the first British medal for the team. We won 25 golds in total that year with 70 participants.” 

Margaret won a further two Paralympic gold medals, along with two silvers, at the Tel Aviv (68), Heidelberg(72), Toronto (76) and Arnhem (80) Games in dartchery (a combination of darts and archery) as well as lawn bowls.

Margaret will be attending this summer’s games and will be an inspirational figure for all the young athletes competing for Team GB.

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.