Celebrating National Sporting Heritage Day

Date
30 September 2017 07:00

National Sporting Heritage Day was established in 2014 as part of the London Olympic Games’ legacy. Held on 30 September each year, its aim is to raise awareness of the relevance of sporting heritage. It empowers new and different audiences to have access to these collections, and encourages heritage and sporting organisations to recognise sporting heritage as an ongoing significant element of their work. Here we share sporting moments from the last century of our charity.

Right from our charity’s formation in 1915, Sir Arthur Pearson, our founder, recognised sport as a very important part of the rehabilitation process. That emphasis continues to this day.

Below we highlight some of the sporting activities of our veterans from years past.

At Blind Veterans UK we have an extensive archive which includes sporting photographs and other records relating to sports activities undertaken by our blind veterans.  To learn more, visit our history or archives pages. 

The 75 yard sprint at our sports day in Regent’s Park in 1938. Three blind veterans run using guide ropes.
The 75 yard sprint at our sports day in Regent’s Park in 1938 – note the competitors using guide lines. Did you know two of our blind veterans beat the Olympic champion Harold Abrahams when he raced against them wearing a blindfold?
Austrian war blinded veteran Willi Hohm taking part in the long jump at our International Sports weekend in 1968 held at our Brighton centre.. Shot is taken front on where veteran is mid way through his jump.
Austrian war blinded veteran Willi Hohm taking part in the long jump at our International Sports weekend in 1968 held at our Brighton centre.
James Ingram, one of our blind veterans, in training for a race with a female volunteer next to him providing him water to drink from.
James Ingram, one of our WWI blind veterans, in training for a race walking event from London to Brighton. He looks happy to have the glamorous refreshment lady alongside him.

 Discover more on race walking

Tug-of-war was an Olympic sport between 1900 and 1920. Our blind veterans team practised by attaching their rope to a sturdy tree.
Did you know tug-of-war was an Olympic sport between 1900 and 1920? Our blind veterans team practised by attaching their rope to a sturdy tree causing bystanders to think it a novel way to uproot it.

 Learn more about this and our other involvement in the Paralympics

Blind veteran Viv Kennard competing in standing jump in a sports day at our WWII home at Church Stretton.
Blind veteran Viv Kennard competed in standing jump in sports day at our WWII home in Church Stretton.
Sports Day at our Brighton centre.  Field athletics have always been popular and here a man is shot putting.
Sports Day at our Brighton centre. Field athletics were always popular. Perhaps the megaphone is for calling “duck”?
Race walking was a very popular sport with our blind veterans.  To keep them on the straight and narrow guides were linked by a rein.
Race walking was a very popular sport with our blind veterans. To keep them on the straight and narrow guides were linked by a rein.
A blind veteran competing at our rowing regatta at Putney in 1920.
A blind veteran competing at our rowing regatta at Putney in 1920. VAD nurses and other young ladies, including some from Bedford College, often acted as coxswains and many romances developed.

Read more about rowing in this article

Push ball - Invented in the US as the answer to the problem of the regular American football being difficult to see, early games of push ball were played between two teams on a gridiron field.Here a group of blind veterans in suits push the ball. They are all facing away from the camera.
Whatever are they doing? You may well ask. Invented in the US as the answer to the problem of the regular American football being difficult to see, early games of push ball were played between two teams on a gridiron field.

Read more about push ball as part of our Historical Photography Project

Judo was a popular sport with our blind veterans. Here two men wrestle, one having been turned upside down.
Upsy-daisy. Judo was a popular sport with our blind veterans.
A blind veteran with a numbered sporting vest on is practising throwing the javelin at our Brighton centre
Practising throwing the javelin at our Brighton centre.
One of our 1921 football teams, the “Dustonians” posing inside the goal net.
This photo from 1921 and shows one of our football teams, the “Dustonians”. Did you know that our football competitions took the form of penalty shoot-out competitions with a sighted goalkeeper clapping his hands to indicate his position?

Over the years we've also had affiliations with the Arsenal and Chelsea football clubs. Learn more in this article

One of our blind veterans practising diving. Here he is in mid air and looks as through he is about to belly flop.
One of our blind veterans practising diving. Let us hope his landing was less painful than it appears.
Blind veteran side on about to throw his discus
Sight loss is no barrier to throwing sports. He has good form for discus. Sports fashions have changed though.
Tens of blind veterans line up in Regent’s Park for the 21 mile race walking event
Lining up in Regent’s Park for the 21 mile race walking event. Did you know – it was originally called pedestrianism?
Blind veteran Jerry Lynch perfecting his aim in archery in front of our Brighton centre.
Blind veteran Jerry Lynch perfecting his aim. Did you know our team, Blind Veterans Bowmen, regularly beat sighted teams in archery competitions?