Story 1

First impressions

I came over from Rhodesia to England in the early 1960s to a rehabilitation centre.

Frances Hopwood at a typewriter

Sadly this didn’t work out. So I went to Greathouse Cheshire home in Wiltshire just to fill in the space between finding another centre to attend. That year was the year of the Cheshire home annual conference and it was taking place at Greathouse. That was where I met Leonard for first time.

My first impression of Leonard Cheshire was one of total amazement. Despite his amazing war record and the work he did, he was just the most down to earth normal human being. We put him on a pedestal but of course he was just an ordinary person. You would often find him lounging back on a sofa and talking to a group of residents. He would be just chatting to us about what we felt we wanted to do and what we wanted to get out of life. He was a lovely man.

I lived at Le Court for 15 years. There were around 50 residents and I became the editor of Cheshire Smile, our in-house news magazine. I don’t think I realised just how, how great Le Court was until I started getting involved and editing the magazine. It was especially amazing during the first Year of Disabled People in 1981, when we had a big international conference that July. It was incredible. After a big lunch in a huge marquee there was a fly past by Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers. Leonard gave a wonderful speech.

I then became part of something in 1989 called Living Options, where we looked at schemes which allowed independent living, but with support nearby. I’m extremely grateful, because Le Court purchased a property on the land. So while I was still a resident, I was a sort of an outside resident, which was rather nice.

I think Leonard Cheshire would have been highly delighted at where we are now. I can see him sitting in a chair in his gentle way saying ‘it’s delightful’.

Find out more about Frances’s memories of Le Court on our Rewind website.

You would often find Leonard lounging back on a sofa and talking to a group of residents.