Royal Mail is issuing a miniature sheet of four stamps to coincide with the opening of the Paralympic Games on August 29.

The Welcome to the London 2012 Paralympic Games miniature sheet is similar in style to the Welcome to the Olympic Games sheet issued in July (August issue, page 22), featuring a quartet of sports merged with images of the city’s landmarks.

It will make Royal Mail the first postal administration of a host country to issue stamps to celebrate the start of the Paralympics.

The origins of today’s event can be traced back to 1948, the last time the Olympic Games came to London. That summer, the German-Jewish refugee Ludwig Guttmann, who was the Director of the Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, organised an archery competition for World War II veterans who were in wheelchairs.

The first official Olympic Games for disabled athletes was held in Rome in 1960, and the term ‘Paralympic’ came into official use in Seoul in 1988.

This year, around 4,200 athletes from 160 countries are expected to compete in 471 medal events spread across 20 sports in different classifications.

Designed by Pearce Marchbank, the sheet was printed in lithography by Cartor.

Royal Mail took the unusual step of naming the athletes shown in the photographs.

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH 
This is a big move towards giving the Paralympics equal billing with the Olympics, as LOCOG intended

QUALITY OF DESIGN  
The images are less well-blended than the Olympics sheet, but capture the spirit of the Games better

WOW FACTOR  
They’re eye-catching, but how many people will get to see these stamps postally used?


£1.28 Powerlifting & St Paul’s Cathedral
Paralympic powerlifting takes place with the athlete lying on his or her back. Ali Jawad, who has no legs, is shown juxtaposed with a view of London’s 17th-century cathedral and the Millennium Bridge which stretches across the River Thames.

1st class Athletics & Olympic Stadium
The amputee athlete Stefanie Reid, who competes wearing a running blade on her right leg, won a bronze medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She is shown heading for the stadium where the track and field events will take place.

1st class Wheelchair Basketball & Palace of Westminster
Wheelchair basketball player Abdi Jamad, who won a bronze medal for Great Britain in Beijing, aims a ball towards the Houses of Parliament.

£1.28 Cycling & London Eye
Amputee cyclist Jody Cundy has international swimming medals as well as nine World and Paralympic cycling
titles. He is shown heading past London’s iconic observation wheel on his specially adapted bike.

OTHER PRODUCTS
In the presentation pack, Jim Davies writes about London’s landmarks, the venues and the history of the Paralympics. A first day cover and stamp cards are also available. 

PRICES

Miniature sheet £3.76
Presentation pack £4.30
Stamp cards £2.25
First day envelope £0.30
First day cover £4.99
TOTAL £15.60