Paralympic legacy honoured with orchard in Queen Elizabeth Park

Saskia story - David Banbury

Queen Elizabeth Park. Pic: David Banbury

An area of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be dedicated to the London 2012 Paralympic Games with plans to build an orchard in the middle of the park, forming a link between its northern and southern ends. It will be named Mandeville Place, after the birthplace of the Paralympic movement – Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the BPA said: “At London 2012, the Paralympic Games were truly parallel to the Olympics and the British public filled venues to capacity to experience Paralympic sport and to show their support for ParalympicsGB.

“Mandeville Place will be a place where the public can remember the Paralympic Games and be inspired to go out and achieve their own personal dreams.”

Working with local disabled people, Churchman Landscape Architects and Studio Weave will bring together apple and other fruit trees with man-made elements to create a growing pavilion that incorporates elements from the original Athletes’ Village Paralympic Wall.

Fruit trees native to the homes of the 34 Paralympics gold medallists from London 2012 will be planted, and carved into the ground. They will serve as the Paralympics’ values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality. The orchard is expected to open in the spring of 2015.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, 11-time Paralympic gold medallist and board member of the London Legacy Development Corporation which manages the park, said: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to see [the Paralympic Games] being celebrated through the inclusion of a dedicated space in the park.

I hope local people and tourists will enjoy picking the fruit and taking part in sports activities in the shadows of the trees.”

A brand new variety of apple will be created for the orchard by mixing pollen from different apple blossoms – only the third time this has happened in the capital in the past 50 years.

A national school competition has also been launched today by GetSet, to find a name for the new variety of apple. Children are encouraged to find a name that will reflect the apple’s Paralympic legacy. The winner will have one of the new apple trees grow on their school grounds. Entries should be submitted by 3 December and the winner will be announced a week later.

Amber Alferoff, of growers the Urban Orchard Project, said: “We’re looking to create a deliciously sweet apple that will appeal to the whole family. The pollination process is complete, the apples are growing and the tasting sessions will be happening very soon.”

Residents from surrounding boroughs will be able to apply for up to 30 voluntary roles to maintain the orchard under the guidance of The Urban Orchard Project.

Visitors to the Park are encouraged to take part in local disability sports programmes, and watch world-class Paralympic events.

Leave a Reply