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FEATURES


Leonard Cheshire – 100 Years of Inspiration


By Stephanie Nield


“[We] need to set our sights high, to be satisfied with nothing less than the best, and to commit ourselves totally and unreservedly to participate in the struggle to build amore liveable world.”


Leonard Cheshire


This year would have been the 100th birthday of Group Captain Leonard Cheshire V.C, and the international disability charity which bears his name is marking the year with aseries of events, programmes and campaigns to honour his past legacy and inspire the charity’s future. Many people know Group Captain Leonard Geoffrey Cheshire V.Cwas aheroic fighter pilot who led the 617 squadron during World WarIIand who was decorated for his bravery with the V.C. Afew others know that he was asked by Churchill to accompany the flights over Nagasaki, Japan during the dropping of the nuclear bomb, and report back. But few know about how he started his charity and how it took off.


For example, when Leonard returned from the war,hewas not only exhausted, but shocked from seeing the number of military men returning who had been injured and had nowhere to go after being discharged from hospital. And then one day,alocal hospital rang him up and asked if he could look after someone who was disabled and dying from terminal cancer.On 22 May 1948, Leonard invited Arthur into his home at Le Court, Hampshire. With no money,Leonard nursed the man himself.They became friends and from this, the news spread. More and more people began coming to Leonard for help, people who were keen to share ahome with others and all chip in together.


18 Envoy Spring 2017


Almost without him having to try,by the summer of 1949 his home of Le Court, in Hampshire, had 24 residents with complex needs, illnesses and impairments. As word spread, referrals came from the new NHS hospitals already struggling to cope with waiting lists of people needing urgent care.


Disabled people were at the very bottom of the list of NHS priorities at the time, often left to manage on their own, or rely on others to help them get through each day.AsLeCourt became


©LC


established, people from different parts of the UK and then the world began to rally in response to local need for similar homes in their communities. The charity now known as Leonard Cheshire Disability had begun.


By 1955, there were five homes in the UK and the first overseas project had begun outside Mumbai in India. The 1960s saw rapid expansion and by 1970 there were over 50 services in the UK, five in India and activities in 21 other countries around the world.


Le Court.


www.raf-ff.org.uk


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