If you're very close to people who are dying in terrible circumstances, literally dying all around you, they become a source of strength itself
Humanitarian Sue Ryder’s name is synonymous with the UK charity she founded, which provides nursing and hospice care, as well as bereavement support to families.
Born into a well-to-do family in Leeds and privately educated, Sue joined up as a nurse during the Second World War, aged just 15. When the war ended she became a relief worker, where in Poland she witnessed first hand the suffering of people left for dead, dying and bereaved in the Nazi concentration camps.
Sue worked with survivors at relief camps until 1952, helping care for the old, the sick and the dying, as they awaited permits to travel and settle overseas. Returning back to the UK, Sue began arranging for survivors to spend time in England to be nursed and recuperate; winning permission in 1959 to establish a permanent residential home for disabled concentration camp survivors – on the proviso she met the costs. By 1965, she had established 30 charitable homes in England and Europe.
Tireless in her care, which saw her drive across borders to deliver medical supplies to the forgotten and overlooked, as well as campaign and lobby, the hospice movement she founded is still going strong. Today, it cares for over 16,000 people in the UK every year.
Sue, who was created a life peer, Baroness Ryder of Warsaw and baroness Cheshire in 1976, was married to Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC. The fighter pilot, decorated for his heroism during the war, also left a charitable legacy, with his eponymous foundation providing disability support to people across the world.