By Tom Degun at Stoke Mandeville Stadium

paralympic torch_relay_28-08-12August 28 - The London 2012 Paralympic Flame has been created here tonight at the spiritual home of the Paralympic Movement and begun its 24-hour Torch Relay journey to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, where it will light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony tomorrow evening.

Stoke Mandeville was chosen as the location where the Flame should be created as it is the place where German neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann sowed the seeds for the Paralympics in 1948 when he organised sporting competition for injured patients rehabilitating from World War Two at the local Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The special Flame Lighting Ceremony here on the eve of the Opening Ceremony saw 3,000 invited guests and dignitaries, including London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven and Eva Loeffler, the daughter of Sir Ludwig and Mayor of the London 2012 Paralympic Village.

"The creation of the Paralympic Flame marks the start of a 24-hour unique Relay which will see teams of Torchbearers work through the night to light the way to a fantastic Paralympic Games," said Coe.

"Each and every one of them has achieved something remarkable and they all demonstrate the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality."

The Paralympic Flame itself has been created in a unique way.

The four elements of it were lit last week at the summits of the highest mountains in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England's Flame was lit at the top of Scafell Pike in Cumbria, Wales' Flame at Snowdon in Gwynedd, Scotland's Flame at Ben Nevis in the Lochaber area and Northern Ireland's Flame at Slieve Donard in County Down.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, the four Flames appeared at the respective nation's capital cities in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff where each became the focus for a day of Paralympic celebrations.

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But they have finally been joined together here this evening to create the Paralympic Flame.

The four Flames were brought together by individuals nominated by London 2012 and the three Presenting Partners of the Paralympic Torch Relay who are BT, Lloyds TSB and Sainsbury's.

The four Flames were placed by the individuals into a special silver cauldron on a stage set up at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and they then combined and create the Paralympic Flame.

The creation of the Paralympic Flame signalled the immediate start of the 24-hour overnight Torch Relay where it will be carried 87 miles by 580 Torchbearers, made up of 116 teams of five.

The first team of five, who started the 24-hour Relay by departing from Stoke Mandeville Stadium, were a special team of Britons chosen by the IPC who between them, have competed at the first five Paralympics.

The team was led by Baroness Susan Masham, who competed at the first Paralympics in Rome in 1960 in the sports of swimming and table tennis.

It also featured wheelchair fencer Caz Walton who competed at Tokyo 1964; wheelchair fencer and table tennis player Sally Haynes who took part at Tel Aviv 1968; archer, athlete, swimmer and table tennis player Jane Blackburn who was part of the British team at Heidelberg 1972; and Sir Philip, the IPC President who played wheelchair basketball at five consecutive Paralympics from Heidelberg 1972 to Seoul 1988.

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"It is fitting that the four national flames are brought together to create the Paralympic Flame at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement," said Sir Philip (pictured above).

"The Torch Relay will further raise awareness levels of the Paralympic Games to new levels, whilst also recognising and celebrating the roots and history of the Paralympic Movement."

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, was also in attendance to give his endorsement.

"The Paralympic Games have come home to Britain – and it will be the biggest Games yet, with more athletes, more countries and more spectators than ever before," he said.

"The talent, commitment and inspiration of the Torchbearers, and ParalympicsGB, reminds us all what can be achieved when we focus on what people can do, rather than what they can't.

"I know the whole country will be backing ParalympicsGB throughout the next 10 days of world-class sport."

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