Wimbledon and Leonard Cheshire Disability partner up to keep disabled people warm

19 November 2015

Hundreds of vulnerable people will be kept warm this winter through the formation of a formidable new ‘doubles partnership’ comprised of Leonard Cheshire Disability and the Wimbledon Foundation, charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Randall Close resource centre in Wandsworth has been awarded £66,420 in new funding from the tournament’s Wimbledon Foundation.

Leonard Cheshire Disability's Keep Warm, Keep Well project aims to reduce excess winter deaths and tackle social exclusion faced by disabled and older people.

Winter Warming sessions will help those at risk to stay warm in their homes and to better insulate their homes.

Keep Warm packs will provide hats, gloves, soup and, where needed, heaters and duvets. 

The championships have a long relationship with the charity — going back to the days when Leonard Cheshire himself was an annual visitor to the All England Club.

The former RAF pilot — who founded the charity now known as Leonard Cheshire Disability in 1948 after seeing the impact of the Second World War at close hand — was a useful amateur tennis player in his own right.

He competed against three-time Wimbledon champion Ken Fletcher and entered a Wimbledon seniors’ competition in 1979. 

Jordanne Whiley MBE, a reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion in wheelchair tennis, has been supporting Leonard Cheshire Disability this year.  

‘Winter and the cold can be very dangerous for disabled, older and vulnerable people and that's why I’m supporting this initiative’, said the 2016 Rio Paralaympic Games contender.

Randall Close manager William Gallagher added:

‘We want to reach out to not just the people who use our services but as many people in the community as we can to let them know we are here to help and can offer free warming packs to those who need them.

‘We are working with Wandsworth Council to save lives.’

Ulrika Hogberg, Wimbledon Foundation & Community Manager said:

‘Meeting social needs in our local community of Wandsworth is one of the key focus areas of the Wimbledon Foundation.

‘By supporting Randall Close’s Keep Warm, Keep Well project through our Health & Wellbeing fund, we hope to help protect and care for local people at risk during the winter months.’

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Notes to editors

  • 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. 
  • The Wimbledon Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Fund gives grants of up to £30,000 per annum for up to three years to sustainable projects meeting social needs by improving the health and wellbeing of residents in Merton and Wandsworth. 
  • Leonard Cheshire, founder of our charity, developed a love and enjoyment of tennis from an early age and throughout his life he enjoyed the competition, exercise and challenge this sport provided. He was well known for travelling with his tennis kit and his final diaries contain appointments to play.
  • As a member of Queen’s Club, in 1979 Leonard entered himself in the over-fifty-fives tournament (he called it an ‘elderly tennis tournament’ in a letter to his friend, Lady Patricia Cullen) and remained a strong player to within a few months of his final illness. He enjoyed the competition and tennis was a main feature of family life and professional players were invited to his home. One particularl opponent he played tennis against was Australian Ken Fletcher, three times mixed doubles Wimbledon champion and winner of 27 international tennis titles. He also visited Wimbledon every year, right up until his death on 31st July 1992.
  • At home and as a boy his parents had tennis courts and the family, friends and visitors were encouraged to play. Leonard enjoyed the competition this afforded him and his brother Christopher and when he went to Stowe school, he enjoyed the access this gave him to competition and the enjoyment of sport. Although not an outstanding sportsman, he participated in all sports. Tennis was Leonard’s favourite though and he gained school colours in the sport and became captain of lawn tennis. Also as Head of his House and prefect, his leadership skills were steadily developing.
  • His schooldays over, he prepared for entry to Merton College, Oxford and in the vacation visited family friends in Germany. Among a friendly and tennis playing German family Cheshire settled in and tennis helped him to develop his German language skills. He was sad to leave when the visit ended and during a visit to an island in the Baltic Sea he entered a tennis tournament which he nearly won.
  • This love of tennis continued throughout his life and provided vital exercise to his chest muscles which were weakened by his episodes of respiratory illness. Throughout his journeys both home and abroad tennis remained his main recreation and his tennis kit went with him wherever he travelled.