Remembering and Honouring...
Plans to change the name of the charity founded by the war hero and VC winner Leonard Cheshire, the RAF bomber commander who went on to dedicate his life to the care of the disabled, have "disappointed" his family.
The Leonard Cheshire charity, which cares for 21,000 disabled people, wants to change its image after a survey showed that most young people had never heard of him and did not know what the charity did.
Volunteers and residents in its 50 homes were asked for suggestions for a new name after its leaders said: "The Leonard Cheshire name can be a barrier to achieving the organisation's goals."
Various new names have been suggested, among them Equability UK, A-BL UK, Disability UK and eQual UK.
A-BL UK - wow! what a bleeding trendy name, and what apart from a weak pun does that mean, what does that stand for? Does it stand for honour, decency, self-sacrifice and bloody hard work for others or does it stand for designer glasses and couple of lines of something in a trendy Soho bar? If the brand name isn't being recognised for what it is then that is your own bloody fault, changing the name and logo is a marketing cop-out and rarely works. The managers of this organisation are obviously just rule-book robots - I doubt a single one of them has an ounce of the qualities that makes the Leonard Cheshire name one that they should be proud to shout about.
He was the only one of the 32 VC airmen to win the medal for an extended period of sustained courage and outstanding effort, rather than a single act of valour. His citation read;
'In four years of fighting against the bitterest opposition he maintained a standard of outstanding personal achievement, his successful operations being the result of careful planning, brilliant execution and supreme contempt for danger - for example, on one occasion he flew his P-51 Mustang in slow figures of 8 above a target obscured by low cloud, to act as a bomb-aiming mark for his squadron. Cheshire displayed the courage and determination of an exceptional leader.'
Cheshire was, in his day, both the youngest Group Captain in the service and, following his VC, the most decorated. His notable wartime record makes his subsequent career all the more remarkable.
On his 103rd mission, he was official British observer of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki flying in the support B-29 The Great Artiste, an event which profoundly changed him. On his return from the mission he left the RAF and went home to his house, Le Court in Hampshire.
While deciding what he should do with the rest of his life he heard about the case of Arthur Dykes, who had formerly served under him and was suffering from cancer. Dykes asked Cheshire to give him some land to park a caravan until he recovered, but Cheshire discovered that Dykes was terminally ill and that this fact had been concealed from him. He told Dykes the real position and invited him to stay at Le Court.
Cheshire learned nursing skills and was soon approached to take in a second patient, the 94-year-old bedridden wife of a man whose own frailness meant he could no longer care for her himself. She was followed by others, some coming to stay and others to help. Although Le Court had no financial support, and was financially perilous most of the time, money somehow always seemed to arrive in the nick of time to stave off disaster. By the time Arthur Dykes died in 1948, there were 24 people staying at Le Court.