Randall Close fulfils World War Two veteran’s dream

4 June 2015

Leonard Cheshire Disability fulfilled a World War Two veteran’s dream last week when he was invited to Royal Hospital Chelsea and lunched with Chelsea Pensioners.

Leonard Findley, 87, a former soldier, has been supported at Randall Close Resource Centre since July 2014. He visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea last Friday accompanied by his son, Malcolm. He was shown around the premises by Major Phil Shannon, Captain of Invalids — a title given to the officer who looks after the pensioners’ welfare. The major gave Mr Findley a personal tour followed by lunch in the grand dining room.

‘It was super great day,’ said Mr Findley, who born in January 1928 and served as a private in the Royal Army Service Corps. ‘I immediately felt at home among so many old soldiers. I have enjoyed the day more than I could ever have imagined.’

Major Shannon said, ‘I was thrilled to facilitate the trip. It was such a pleasure to see the sheer enjoyment written over Leonard’s face on meeting some of the Chelsea Pensioners.’ Along the way, Mr Findley met many Chelsea Pensioners, some of whom had also served in his regiment. Mr Findley also had a chance to enjoy the world famous gardens.

William J Gallagher, Service Manager for Randall Close Resource Centre, made the dream happen. He said the visit had been truly memorable. ‘My impression of enablement and empowerment and the empathy with which I experienced both staff and pensioners was overwhelming.’

William, who has worked at Randall Close for over sixteen years, said he believed it was very important to understand the personal histories of those who use the Randall Close support day services. ‘When Len told me his story, and how he had always wanted to visit the Chelsea Pensioners, I rang the Royal Hospital to see if they could help. The day could not have got better.’

He added that Leonard Cheshire Disability is keen to foster closer ties with hospital, and will be inviting Chelsea Pensioners to visit the Randall Close Service in the coming months. ‘We all have things we would like to do and see, so if I can help fulfil these dreams, then I will do anything I can to make it happen.’

Mr Findley said his desire to visit Royal Hospital Chelsea came from his days as a private in the Royal Army Service Corps during World War Two. He was posted in Tel-el-Kebir and then Fayed, Egypt, where he and his corps were stationed to protect important local groups. He served alongside three of his brothers, Henry, George and Fred, although they were not all stationed together. He was later stationed around Europe, including France, and then Germany.

Major Shannon added he was pleased to work again with Leonard Cheshire Disability, as he had worked in many Leonard Cheshire homes while stationed in the Far East. 

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