Short version: My PhD research project aims to be the first focused history of the sporting provision and experiences of people with learning disabilities in Britain between 1960 and 2012.
Longer version: The project aims to be the first focused history of the sporting provision and experiences of people with Learning Disabilities in Britain between 1960 and 2012. It will provide a study of the changing status of people with Learning Disabilities in civil society through the lens of sporting participation, illuminating therefore broader ideas of citizenship, class, gender and ethnicity. As a relatively recent area of historical enquiry, it has lent itself well to exploration through Oral History interviews with athletes, coaches and volunteers. These interviews have used a number of innovative techniques, such as conducting the interview whilst participating in sport alongside the interviewee.
The research is fortunate enough to benefit from three years of funding by the AHRC (2016-2019), through their Midlands 3 Cities partnership. This funding has also allowed for expert training in Oral History, archival research and creative academic writing. The project also benefits from having an experienced supervising team from the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort (Neil Carter & Matt Taylor), that previously worked with Special Olympics GB, producing a report on the Leicester Games in 2009. More Information.
With the help of the Special Olympic Athlete Leaders group we have been able to listen to athletes and understand how they want their story to be told. Interviews conduced so far have included: Chris Moloney, founder of Special Olympics GB,
Geoff Smedley of Sports Union for Down Syndrome
Ian Harper, Special Olympic athlete
and Lord Moynihan, author of 'Building on Ability: Sport for people with disabilities'
How you can help?
We want to hear the story of anyone who has been involved in Intellectual/Learning Disability sport: whether as an athlete, volunteer, coach or supporter
Email to or use the form below- There are a number of questions in easy read format that may help you make a start.
Send us video/photos/drawings, either on their own or to tell a story- I have created a “My sporting timeline” below as an example
Arrange to 'Tell us your story'- We’d love to come and meet you and hear your story in person (logistics allowing of course)