February 26 - Stoke Mandeville, birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, is getting ready to welcome the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games Torch this weekend as the official Relay gets underway today in the eastern-most point of Russia, Cape Dezhnev.
The Torch is set to visit 47 destinations across the vast expanse of host country Russia on its 10-day journey before arriving in Sochi for the official Opening Ceremony on March 7.
In an historic first, the Torch will visit a destination outside of the Games host nation when it arrives in the Buckinghamshire town on Saturday (March 1) for a special Heritage Flame Ceremony at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
More than 600 invited guests, including Winter and Summer Paralympians and representatives from community groups, will attend the special Ceremony 66 years after Sir Ludwig Guttmann launched the Stoke Mandeville Games, forerunner for the first Paralympic Games in Rome in1960.
During the Ceremony, Britain's London 2012 gold medallist Hannah Cockroft will light the first Heritage Flame from inside a specially designed artwork called the Armillary Sphere, created by acclaimed designer Jon Bausor, which references the Greek God Hephaestus, inventor of the first wheelchair.
Stoke Mandeville Artist in Residence Rachel Gadsden, working with filmmaker Abigail Norris, has been commissioned to create a contemporary interpretation of the Hephaestus myth in the form of an animated film narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, who also performed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Director Mike Christie, responsible for the Channel Four documentary Inside Incredible Athletes, has created a short film especially for the event called I am Flame, also narrated by Sir Ian, and inspired by Stoke Mandeville's role in the Movement.
Music for the Ceremony has been composed by Dan Jones, an award-winning composer, sound designer and theatre director.
The Paralympic Heritage Flame project has been supported with £155,000 ($258,000/€188,000) of public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts programme.
Bradley Hemmings, co-artistic director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, is the artistic director of the project.
"The inaugural Heritage Flame Lighting Festival will be a great event and Bradley's fantastic team have created something that will truly inspire and excite the audience and the British public," said Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association (BPA).
"It will be an excellent way to celebrate the birthplace of the movement as well as Britain's involvement in the Paralympic Winter Games, and get the British public excited about supporting ParalympicsGB in Sochi and beyond."
Channel 4 News will broadcast live footage of the Ceremony at 6:30pm on Saturday evening and some footage of this event will be used to show the start of the Paralympic Flame's journey to Sochi as part of the official Opening Ceremony on March 7.
The Torch has been created by Russian designers Vladimir Pirozhkov and Andrei Vodyanik and is sky blue to symbolise the strength and spirit of the Paralympic Movement, according to Sochi 2014 officials.
It is shaped like a feather and is 95 centimetres (37 inches) tall, weighing around 1.8 kilograms.
More than 1,000 Paralympic Torches have been produced for the Relay, which will visit major towns and cities across eight federal districts in Russia: Dalnevostochniy, Sibirskiy, Uralskiy, SeveroZapadniy, Tsentralniy, Privolzhskiy, SeveroKavkazskiy and Yuzhniy.
For more information on each of the destinations set to welcome the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch, click here.
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November 2013: Stoke Mandeville organising events for Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch ceremony
August 2013: Stoke Mandeville to feature in all Paralympic Games Torch Relays
January 2013: Sochi 2014 launches Olympic and Paralympic Torches
January 2013: Bid to make Stoke Mandeville permanent home of Paralympic Torch lighting gathers momentum
November 2012: Support growing for Stoke Mandeville to be made permanent home of Paralympic Torch lighting