About Margaret Susan Cheshire (Ryder)
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 organizations, 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 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 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 1998 Sue Ryder retired as a trustee and severed her links with Sue Ryder Care following a dispute with the other trustees, whom she accused of betraying her guiding principles.
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 in 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.
Her husband was made a life peer in 1991, as Baron Cheshire, as a result of which Ryder obtained the additional title Baroness Cheshire. She died in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 2000, aged 76.
Ryder wrote two autobiographies:
And the Morrow is Theirs (1975)
Child of My Love (1986)