Leonard Cheshire’s 100th birthday year launches at Dragon School, Oxford

16 January 2017

Neil Heslop speaking at the Dragon SchoolLeonard Cheshire Disability, the leading international charity, teamed up with the Dragon School, Oxford on Friday 13 January 2017, to launch its founder's 100th birthday year (1917-2017).

The new chief executive of the charity, Neil Heslop OBE, gave a talk to children aged eight to 13 at Dragon School’s weekly spectrum event, talking about the former student, Leonard Cheshire, and the work the charity now does around the world.

He focused on the school’s core values of courage, kindness and respect and how these shaped Leonard’s life in the war and in helping disabled people.

Mr Heslop was delighted to invite the children to write a 300 word essay competition about anyone they knew who had a disability, or who helped disabled people.

The winner will be announced at the end of term in March 2017.

Neil Heslop said:

‘It’s wonderful to launch our centenary celebrations at the place where Leonard Cheshire started his education and learnt his values.

‘I gather he made life-long friends here and continued to inspire children all his life.

‘We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge about disability and hope we inspire Dragon children to be as generous spirited as Leonard Cheshire.’

Dragon deputy head Ed Phelps said:

‘Leonard Cheshire, who left the Dragon in 1931, epitomised the values of the Dragon then and now.

‘He returned to the school many times to inspire our children.

‘During the centenary year of his birth, we are delighted to welcome Leonard Cheshire Disability back to inspire the next generation.’

The centenary year is celebrating the life and work of Leonard Cheshire, Victoria Cross winner, second world war pilot and benefactor.

Throughout 2017, the charity will be hosting events, talks, lectures, programmes and sharing its amazing history on a dedicated website, as well as promoting its work in the UK and around the world. 

Events and programmes include 100 stories about Leonard Cheshire and the charity, 100 for 100 — a social media campaign raising awareness of what the charity does and celebrations around the world with global alliance partners. 

A lecture at Merton College, Oxford will be given on March 7 2017 by Lord Puttnam CBE, film director and close friend of Leonard Cheshire.

Media enquiries

For press enquiries please email Selina Mills or call 0203 242 0298.

For press enquiries at the Dragon School please email Jane Pendry or call 018 6531 5415.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries.

Group Captain Cheshire, who was a Dragon from 1925, later went on to Stowe School, and then Merton College, Oxford to read law. He was recruited fly with the RAF and was one of the most decorated pilots in World War II.  After the war he set up Cheshire Homes, which grew into Leonard Cheshire Disability which still supports disabled people around the world.  

The Dragon School is one of the best known schools in the UK and it roots lie in progressive educational theory of the late nineteenth century. Founded as the Oxford Preparatory School in 1877 the school was started by a group of Oxford University dons for their own children. Run for many years by the Lynam family, the Dragon reflected their unconventional approach to education which was based on the belief that children should enjoy school and understand the world around them.