The Master with Award Winner Martin McElhatton:
At the Company’s Annual Banquet in the Mansion House on 20 May 2015 The Master presented Martin McElhatton with the Award for 2015.
Martin is Chief Executive of WheelPower – the national charity and sports organisation for wheelchair sport in the UK – and owners of Stoke Mandeville Stadium - the national centre for disability sport and birthplace of the Paralympic Games.
Critically injured in a motorcycle accident on his way to work as a BAe apprentice Martin was hospitalised for months and his future life would be entirely different from that previously envisaged. Rehabilitation continued at Stoke Mandeville with their emphasis on exercise and sports therapy and gradually Martin recovered sufficiently to become involved in wheelchair basketball. In those days wheelchairs were uninspired and very cumbersome, but it wasn't long before adventurous and determined wheelchair bound sports people pushed for changes and various Heath Robinson style sports chairs were developed helping to marry machine with user. Now rapid progress was made in their skills levels and clubs were set up to encourage competition.
Martin is a Paralympian who competed in wheelchair basketball for Great Britain in the 1984 Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville and also in the 1986 World Championships in Australia and 1987 European Championships. He was the PR/Media lead for the team at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul This was the beginning of the development of Martin's media skills and management potential. As manager of the UK wheelchair tennis team at the 2012 Paralympics, Martin expressed his tremendous satisfaction that the games had raised the profile of Paralympians, helped to banish negative viewpoints and greatly enhanced the public's appreciation and understanding of the capabilities of wheelchair sportsmen and women and the range of sports now available to them. Martin was honoured to be a London 2012 Paralympic Torch Bearer.
Martin has been involved in wheelchair sport for over 30 years including voluntary roles within wheelchair tennis at national and international level, local sport within Buckinghamshire as well as his professional life as Chief Executive of WheelPower. He is responsible for a large team of full time and volunteer workers plus the amazing resources of the Stoke Mandeville Stadium complex. This comprises a huge sports hall, 25m swimming pool, athletics stadium, tennis courts, shooting ranges, a 50 bed hotel and a range of other facilities, with more planned.