Over 40 years of inspiration
Double amputee Sir Douglas Bader was an inspirational man. His heroic career as an RAF pilot and respected Group Captain in the Second World War, and his tireless post war support of people with disabilities, particularly fellow amputees, inspired disabled and non disabled alike. He was renowned for his indomitable spirit and ‘can do’ attitude.
On his death in 1982, the Douglas Bader Foundation was created to continue his invaluable charity work with the same ‘can do’ ethos.
Douglas Bader Foundation (DBF) Timeline-Key Points
The start of the DBF
The DOUGLAS BADER FOUNDATION (DBF) was founded following the death on the 5th September of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS,DL
Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
Bader Cup golf tournament
Bader Cup established by John Southwick as an annual fundraising Golf Event eventually involving over 600 UK golf clubs
Incorporation of the DBF
Sir Peter Baxendell appointed Chairman of Fundraising. DBF moved to offices in the Shell Centre
The Bader Flame
First ‘Bader Flame’ award presented for Outstanding Contribution to the Amputee Disabled Community
HRH Diana becomes Patron
HRH Diana, Princess of Wales became Patron of the Foundation
The Douglas Bader Foundation celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
The Douglas Bader Centre
The ‘Douglas Bader Centre’ was built at Roehampton Hospital in 1992 and officially opened by DBF Patron, HRH Diana Princess of Wales, in 1993
A new chairman
Founding member and current CEO of DBF became Chairman of the Foundation in 1994
The Bader Grants Scheme
1995 saw the initiation of the ‘Douglas Bader Grant Scheme’ with Bader Grants awarded to successful applicants living with a disability to support them in the pursuance of specific goals. First Bader Grants announced and presented at DBF Headquarters in the Shell Centre.
The following year it was decided to award Bader Grants annually.
Grant awarded by Queen Noor
In 1999, the newly formed Bader Grants were presented by Queen Noor of Jordan at the Bader Centre, Roehampton.
The first Bader Challenge
First Bader Challenge fundraising event ‘Cycle Ride Through Jordan’, involving amputees and non-disabled. It was the first of many diverse group challenges organised to raise funds for DBF.
DBF sponsors CHAMPS
In 2001, The DBF began their sponsorship of the first CHAMPS (Child Amputee) weekend organised by BALASA.
Later in the same year John Southwick introduced the Ladies Salver Golf Tournament.
Lady Bader receives OBE
Lady Joan Bader, the late wife of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader was awarded the OBE in 2002 in recognition of her services to disabled people.
In the same year, The DBF funds the National Help Bureau, a joint initiative between the Foundation and The Limbless Association
The Bader Walking School
In 2003 the DBF funded ‘Bader Walking School’, a rehabilitation centre within the University Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur, was opened.
A new service is launched
2004 saw the launch of the Limb Loss Legal Panel offering free legal advice to amputees.
That was followed up in 2005 by the Limb Loss Information Centre (LLIC) providing a wide range of advice, information and support to people affected by limb loss. The LLIC website had one of the most active and successful website forums at that time.
Flying days take off
The Farrow Bader Flying Day offered children affected by limb loss or disability the opportunity to experience flight in a small plane. This was the precursor to our successful ‘Young Aviators Days’ initiative.
2005 also saw the launch of our all inclusive Bader Challenges designed to encourage people with disabilities to participate in life changing adventures.
The Douglas Bader Rehabilitation Centre
A new rehabilitation centre, named ‘The Douglas Bader Rehabilitation Centre’ in honour of Sir Douglas and the work of DBF, was created at Queen Mary’s Hospital.
Later in the same year DBF pledged support to the amputee victims of the July 7th bombings in London.
DBF celebrated its 25th Anniversary Auction Dinner in the The Long Room at Lord’s.
Inaugural Amputee Games
Sir Douglas Bader’s Centenary Year
In the year Sir Douglas Bader would have reached 100, DBF was more active than ever launching several new initiatives including ‘Bader Braves’ and ‘Young Aviators Days’ for children affected by limb loss.
In the same year, Phil Packer, David Gardner and Adam Layer were all announced as new DBF ambassadors and DBF supporter Margaret Biggs (“Leggz”) introduced LimbLine, a telephone and email support service, run through the LLIC website.
2012 marked 30 years since the death of Sir Douglas Bader and the forming of the Douglas Bader Foundation. By 2012 The Young Aviators Days had increased to 12 venues throughout the UK.
Thank You John
By 2013 The Bader Cup charity golf tournament was into its 30th year. Founder and organiser, John Southwick, chose this year to retire after generating thousands of pounds for DBF.
In the same year, DBF ambassadors Maggz Biggs and Wyn Jenkins launched ‘Team Bader’ – a group of amputee cyclists taking on challenges to raise awareness of amputee cycling and funds for DBF. Their first challenge was a tandem ride down the “vertical axis of Wales”.
Doing it for the kids
By 2014 the range of activities for children had expanded to include 12 Young Aviators Days throughout the UK, a Winter Wonderland weekend at Calvert Trust and a Bader Braves Track Day.
It wasn’t all about the kids though; a canal trip was organised for the RLUG (Roehampton Limb User Group) through The Bruce Trust, and Team Bader Cycling was registered to compete as an official para-cycling team. Team Bader’s Margaret Biggs was awarded The Bader Flame for her efforts on behalf of DBF.
Beginnings and ends
2015 was an emotional year for DBF. An exciting new initiative was announced to create the first ever disabled air display team to be named ‘Bader’s Bus Company’.
Later in the same year, on the 18th December, Lady Joan Bader passed away at 97 years old.
Bader’s Big Band
In 2016, another exciting new initiative was announced. ‘Bader’s Big Band’ brought together musicians with visible and invisible disabilities from throughout the UK.
The Lady Bader Memorial Grant was formed in memory of Joan Bader with the first award in 2016 going to para-dressage rider, Mari Akhurst. The ‘Grant Recipient of the Month’ feature was also announced.
Bader’s Bus Company takes off
After a great deal of work ‘Bader’s Bus Company’ took to the sky in their debut performance which was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Sir Douglas Bader. There was widespread interest in the group following generous coverage on National TV.
In the same year, DBF welcomed their first Junior Ambassador, Thomas Talbot.
Momentum, which had been building with ‘Bader’s Big Band’ increasing their bookings and performances; ‘Bader’s Bus Company’ scheduled for several air show days; ‘Team Bader’ taking part in events around the world; ‘Bader Braves’ activities increasing and the ‘Young Aviators Days’ initiative continuing its successful run, was brought to an abrupt halt by Lockdown. In March 2020 the DBF, like so many others, reluctantly had to cease all activities.
In 2022 DBF celebrated their 40th Anniversary and marked the occasion with the release of a wonderful book entitled ‘Legend to Legacy‘. (Available to buy through the website)
It was decided that DBF should shift its focus in acknowledgement of their 40th Anniversary milestone. The ‘Young Aviators Day’ initiative ended after a hugely successful 12 year run and DBF became more of a charitable trust, supporting other charities and increasing practical support of people living with disabilities through The Bader Grant Scheme.
A more detailed timeline is available as a PDF download