Story 49

Continued a close association

Leonard Cheshire came to India in 1955, with the aim of setting up the first overseas Cheshire Home.

The first overseas Cheshire home

In 1956 he established the Cheshire Home in Bombay and then set about exploring how he could reach persons with disabilities in other parts of the country. He met with Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, and spoke to him about the activities he wanted to carry out, and his intention to make Dehradun the international headquarters of the Cheshire Homes.

The Maharani of the State of Nabha had also met Nehru and expressed her desire to work for social causes. Nehru suggested Leonard Cheshire should meet Maharani Nabha and discuss how she could support his work. He told Maharani Nabha about his desire to start a home in Dehradun and the need for suitable accommodation. As a result of their discussions, she donated an old palace of the State of Nabha known as ‘Govind Bhawan’, which today remains the site of the present Cheshire Home.

Lord Cheshire came to Dehradun and met with prominent citizens of the city, including Dr. Durga Prasad; Rai Bahadur Uger Sen; J.A.K. Martyn, Head Master ‘The Doon School’; and Mahant Indresh of Jhanda Sahib. He spoke to them about his aim to establish a Cheshire Home for the underprivileged and those who were neglected by the society. They were all instrumental in setting up the home.

It was by the blessings of all that Cheshire Home Dehradun was established in August 1956. The building had been locked up some years and was not in use. It was in a very bad shape. Several people had set up huts in the campus of the building and were living there, among fruit-bearing trees.

For the first night Leonard Cheshire stayed in these huts. He opened the building, cleaned it by himself and made it habitable. He then came across a disabled beggar nearby and brought him to the home, and lived with him there and cared for him for a time. Thus the Cheshire Home Dehradun came into existence. With the passage of time other philanthropic persons also started associating with his mission. Gradually more and more residents with different disabilities came to live at the home.

After his marriage with Sue Ryder, Leonard Cheshire came to stay at the home for some time. He established a Chapel for offering prayers on the first floor of building which still exists and is being maintained. He continued a close association with the home for the rest of his life and visited often.

He continued a close association with the home for the rest of his life and visited often.