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Disability sport in the spotlight at museum

Exhibition graphic

An exhibition showcasing local disabled people and their involvement in sport is taking place at North Herts Museum until 26 March.

‘For the love of the game’ tells the stories of local people and their experiences of sport, including Sam Prowse of the Letchworth Braveherts, who captained in the second ever international mixed ability rugby match. And Lesley Reid, a judo coach from Royston, who has competed in visually impaired judo tournaments and won two national Judo Championship medals 25 years apart.

The exhibition has been curated by Freya Purcell, the museum’s Curatorial Trainee employed through Curating for Change, a nationwide campaign to tackle the under-representation of disabled, neurodiverse and Deaf/deaf individuals working within the museum sector. Freya has epilepsy and dyslexia, she said: “When I was younger, I loved history, and seeing objects in museums made it more accessible to understand the history, like being able to literally step back into the past.”

Freya continued: “People were quick to say I couldn’t participate in sport due to my epilepsy, but it’s been amazing to see what sport can mean to people and what can happen when people say ‘yes’ and make things accessible instead of simply saying ‘no’.”

Freya has been working with the local community to build the exhibition, using their stories and loaned or donated objects from their sporting lives. The exhibition also highlights disability in the production of sport media including featuring North Herts resident and Paralympic Athlete Maria Verdeille, who has worked as a researcher on productions including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and the Premier League.

Ros Allwood, Cultural Services Manager at North Herts Council, added: “We hope the exhibition helps raise awareness about the potential of parasport and challenges the stereotype of who we think sport is for.

“There are a variety of organisations in North Herts which support para and mixed ability sport, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make sport accessible. A recent report by the charity Activity Alliance, which champions disabled voices in sport, found that only 3 in 10 disabled people agree that disabled people have the same opportunity to be active as non-disabled people, and 7 in 10 disabled people believe the pandemic has made sport less fair for disabled people.”

North Herts Museum is located on Brand Street, Hitchin, open Tue-Sat 10.30am-4.30pm and Sun 11am-3pm, and general admission and this exhibition is free.

For more information check out @northhertsmusuem on Facebook and Instagram, @nhertsmuseum on Twitter, visit the Museum website or call 01462 474554.

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