Story 3

Driving GC

Leonard was full of humour. You had no idea when he was serious or when he was pulling your leg.

Trevor Prothero standing in front of a Leonard Cheshire Foundation minibus

Like the time he came down and asked me, while I was cleaning his father Professor Cheshire’s shoes one Saturday afternoon: ‘Would you mind cleaning a few pairs for me?’ So without thinking I said: ‘Certainly, how many pairs you got?’ and he said: ‘Oh about 32.’

So I — he was so serious about it — I quite believed him! About half an hour afterwards, he came out and he said something about these shoes and started laughing, and I knew he was pulling my leg! He was always pulling people’s legs, always having jokes, at himself very often as well.

I used to drive him round when he came down. He didn’t have a chauffeur then so I used to do quite a lot of driving for him at weekends, or Le Court used to give me time off to take him round various places.

We once went down to Wiltshire, down to RAF Lynham where he was guest of honour. I remember him sitting in the back of the car with his feet up. I was driving away and could hear him nattering and I said: ‘Pardon?’ ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘I’m dictating some letters.’ He had a dictaphone, and I hadn’t realised what it was. I should think he must have dictated about 20 or 30 letters before we got anywhere near Wiltshire!

I couldn’t help but overhear what he was saying. They were going to India and Canada, the High Commissioner this and the High Commissioner that of all these different places, I was amazed. He told me that he sent them back to London and then they typed it all out and sent it off for him.

I used to ‘Sir’ him and he always told me not call him ‘Sir’, just ‘GC’ (short for his RAF rank, Group Captain). Then towards the latter end I just called him ‘Leonard’ every time I saw him. It was a privilege.

Find out more about Trevor’s memories at Le Court on our Rewind website.

Leonard was full of humour. You had no idea when he was serious or when he was pulling your leg.