It might be difficult to see how the work of Lady Ryder in the war ended up with her starting the work we continue today; providing incredible hospice and neurological care.
But the reason is actually very simple; Sue Ryder was a humanitarian whose mission was the relief of suffering. This universal purpose stood above any one particular cause. Where there was a need -if she could help, she would. In the aftermath of war there were many displaced people in Europe and so she did whatever she could to care for them.
The first Sue Ryder home in the UK opened in her mother’s house in Cavendish, Suffolk in 1952 and its first patients were survivors of the concentration camps.
Meeting new needs
As the years since the war rolled by, the scope of Lady Ryder’s work widened to include supporting people with complex needs and life-threatening conditions across the UK and internationally. It was the same principle. Where there was a need, if she could help, she would.
As such, in 1974 the first home for cancer patients was opened. Word spread, and soon Sue Ryder was being asked to provide similar homes in different parts of the country. A meeting of cancer specialists from all over the country was called to identify areas of need. Sue Ryder called them ‘SOS’ areas.
Gloucestershire was one area of need and a ruined manor house near Cheltenham was acquired and rebuilt as Leckhampton Court Hospice. Nettlebed Hospice was then established to serve the Reading area and so the pattern went on. As a result of her work, today we have seven hospices and five neurological care centres continuing the work of Lady Ryder.
Leaving the charity
In 1998 there were differences of opinion between Lady Ryder and the senior leadership team within the charity about its future direction, which ultimately led to Lady Ryder leaving.
Sue Ryder went on to found another charity, which is now known as the Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust.
Sue Ryder died on 2 November 2000.