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|The Right Honourable
The Baroness Ryder of Warsaw
|Born||Margaret Susan Ryder
3 July 1924
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
|Died||2 November 2000
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
|Other names||Margaret Susan Cheshire|
|Known for||Sue Ryder Foundation|
|Title||Baroness Ryder of Warsaw (suo jure)
|Spouse(s)||Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire|
Margaret Susan Cheshire, Baroness Ryder of Warsaw and Baroness Cheshire, CMG, OBE (3 July 1924 – 2 November 2000), best known as Sue Ryder, was a British volunteer with Special Operations Executive in the Second World War, who afterwards led many charitable organisations, notably the charity named in her honour.
Margaret Susan Ryder was born in 1924 in Leeds, and educated at Benenden School. When World War II broke out, she volunteered to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, even though she was only 15, and she was soon assigned to the Polish section of the Special Operations Executive. In this role, Ryder's job was to drive SOE agents to the airfield where they would take off for their assignments in Europe. In 1943 she was posted to Tunisia and later to Italy.
Year of birth
"I was born on 3 July 1923" – So Sue Ryder begins her autobiography Child of My Love. This was repeated by The Daily Telegraph in her obituary in November 2000, adding that "Lady Ryder of Warsaw, better known as Sue Ryder, has died aged 77", as well as by the BBC and many other news sources.
Her birth and death certificates both put the date at exactly one year later, on 3 July 1924, as does a plaque unveiled in honour of Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire in Cavendish Church in Suffolk. At the beginning of the war, Ryder volunteered to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, even though she was only 15. To get in, she lied about her age and seems to have kept the deception going for the rest of her life.
After the war was over, Ryder volunteered to do relief work, including some in Poland. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1957. In 1959 Ryder married Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC (later Lord Cheshire), the founder of the major UK charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Both Cheshire and Ryder were Roman Catholic converts. They received a joint Variety Club Humanitarian Award in 1975. Ryder was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1976.
In 1953 she established the Sue Ryder Foundation (later renamed Sue Ryder Care and in 2011 changed to Sue Ryder). The charity in 2011, now named simply Sue Ryder, thus reflects her importance and honours her life's work. At first Cavendish, Suffolk, was established by her following her relief work in Europe after the Second World War, as a home for concentration camp survivors and later to provide nursing care for the elderly and disabled. It operates more than 80 homes worldwide, has about 500 high street charity shops and more than 8,000 volunteers. There is a Sue Ryder charity shop as far as the Ascension Islands.
In February 2000 Ryder set up the Bouverie Foundation (since renamed The Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust) to continue charitable work according to her ideals. Its work includes providing accommodation in Lourdes for handicapped pilgrims and their carers.
Ryder was made a life peer on 31 January 1979, being created Baroness Ryder of Warsaw, of Warsaw in Poland and of Cavendish in the County of Suffolk. In the House of Lords, Ryder was involved in debates about defence, drug abuse, housing, medical services, unemployment and race relations.
Ryder continued to speak for Poland and when the Communist rule there collapsed, she arranged lorries of medical and food aid. In 1989 Ryder made an appeal through The Daily Telegraph to obtain more funding and collected £40,000 through the Lady Ryder of Warsaw Appeals Fund.
Ryder was particularly outspoken in her opposition to homosexuality. In a Lords debate for what became the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Ryder moved an Amendment proposing a 'Restriction on custody of children by homosexuals'. Ryder's Amendment proposed to make it a criminal offence for 'any homosexual man or woman, other than the natural parent, to have the care or custody of a child under the age of eighteen' and, where this was the case, for homosexuals to be liable on summary conviction to a maximum of 6 months imprisonment. Ryder withdrew the Amendment when it received limited support from Peers.
Ryder wrote two autobiographies:
- And the Morrow is Theirs (1975)
- Child of My Love (1986)
- The London Gazette: . 13 June 1957.
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 1976.
- Sue Ryder Care, Registered Charity no. 1052076 at the Charity Commission
- BBC News: Charity founder Baroness Ryder dies
- The Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust, Registered Charity no. 1082295 at the Charity Commission
- The London Gazette: . 2 February 1979.
- The London Gazette: . 19 July 1979.
- Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. Law, Religion and Homosexuality. Routledge.
- Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust website
- Sue Ryder Care website
- Daily Telegraph: Obituary
- London Gazette reference
- Sue Ryder's appearance on This Is Your Life