On Sunday, outside Stoke Mandeville Hospital's stadium, a statue will be unveiled of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a man you're likely to hear more and more about as we get closer to the Paralympics.
This pioneering doctor transformed the way patients with spinal cord injuries are treated. He also invented the Paralympic Games.
Dr Guttmann was a German Jew who fled the Nazis in 1939. He was helped to Britain by CARA, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics. "Poppa Guttmann", as he was affectionately known by his patients, set up his own spinal injury treatment centre at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire which initially treated servicemen injured in world war two.
Back in those days, people with spinal cord injuries lived a matter of months at most. They were usually killed by bedsores or urinary tract infections.
Dr Guttmann changed that.
His pioneering treatments included turning the patients every three hours to prevent sores developing - and bladder training. But he also believed that activity was the key. He got his patients involved in sport as a way to improve their lives and their diagnosis.
Philip Lewis met Dr Guttmann after he broke his neck in a car accident in 1962. He is now involved in the Poppa Guttmann Trust which is behind the statue.
Mr Lewis' parents were told he'd likely die overnight, but he believes the fact he was treated by Ludwig Guttmann means he's still around 50 years on. He told Channel 4 News: "Dr Guttmann used to say 'Zees is a good boy' if you'd worked hard."
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Philip Lewis spent four months in bed, but then he got some movement in his finger which excited his doctor: "He would say 'Your lazy time is over'."
As Mr Lewis' condition improved, his days got busier. "I'd start with archery which is very good for the shoulders to strengthen muscles, then I'd be in the hydroptherapy pool, then into the gym. 4-5pm was table tennis and there was also occupational therapy."
Mr Lewis found he was good at table tennis - and ended up representing England in the Paralympics in Tokyo in 1964.
Dr Guttmann held his first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, on a patch of grass in the hospital grounds. What began as a few ex-servicemen competing against each other, grew into an international competition and then into the Paralympics.
"He had a vision right at the beginning that this could develop into something worldwide. When I played in the first national games it was in the hospital's archery unit. Then we got to a stadium, then the Games were held in different countries where facilities got better and better. The whole thing evolved, but it had to start and it started at Stoke Mandeville hospital, on a little patch of grass in 1948."
On Sunday, the head of the International Paralympic Committee will witness the statue's unveiling. Sir Philip Craven will also be presented with a bust of Sir Ludwig Guttmann which from now on will be taken to each Paralympic Games. There'll also be representatives from CARA there. This charity has a proud history. Eighteen of the refugees they have saved over the years went on to become Nobel Laureates. Their work contines today.
Sunday's unveiling will be momentous for those who knew Dr Guttmann. Many of his patients will be there. It also perhaps marks the moment that Sir Ludwig Guttmann begins to get the recognition he deserves.
26 May 2011