Tuesday 12th December was an important day for the Douglas Bader Foundation. We were so proud to see DBF founder and CEO, David Charles Townshend Bickers, awarded with his MBE for Services to People with Disabilities.
The award was presented by King Charles 111 and took place at Windsor Castle, which was a wonderful venue and suited the modern way of holding the Investiture perfectly. All recipients including David and his guests: first wife Wendy McCleave, son Charley Bickers and daughter Tessa Bickers, were all ceremoniously escorted through a series of magnificent rooms in the Castle before finally reaching the awe inspiring Grand Reception Room for the investiture itself. This system is lovely for the guests who are able to stay close to the recipient throughout the entire process. It is more intimate and less formal than the previous system and apparently evolved from the changes that had to be put in place to protect people during lockdown. There was a fantastic atmosphere; the attendant Castle staff were kind and helpful and made sure everyone was put at ease and as relaxed as possible in the circumstances. Time and again we heard recipients being reminded to stay relaxed and enjoy their moment. Such good advice! There was ampule opportunity to take in some of the fabulous furniture, artefacts, paintings (and chandeliers – normally chandeliers aren’t my favourite things but those in Windsor Castle, their sparkling crystals refracting all the colours of the rainbow, were magical) in every room. There was a feeling of gentle collective pride.
As we drove up the Long Walk approach (our thanks to Jane Forbes for driving us and support throughout) the Castle was bathed in morning sunshine, the ancient stones mellow under a blue sky – a fitting precursor for the warmth of the ceremony to follow. After security checks on Jane’s car she departed and David and guests were ceremoniously delivered to the Castle entrance in a golf buggy!
It was such a moving morning, simply being in the Castle itself was so meaningful. A beautiful, resilient building, which still bears the scars of the horrific fire of 2oth November 1992, which destroyed 115 rooms including 9 state rooms and took 15 hours to contain. You could say that, like the Royal Family itself, the Castle has survived external threats to emerge stronger. Built in the 11th century, after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror and completed in 1528 it is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It is steeped in history, full of treasures both public and personal and is clearly a well loved home as well as an historic monument of huge significance. It. seemed a worthy place to honour the stream of proud recipients who represent some of the most important people in their fields and had between them amassed awards for a hugely diverse range of public services and individual achievements. It was an event both humbling and inspiring and so poignant in our case to see David, who has worked tirelessly for the charity in Douglas Bader’s footsteps, receiving recognition for over 40 years of dedication to supporting amputees and people with disabilities.
Once David had been greeted and congratulated by King Charles, the MBE had been attached with seamless efficiency by a very experienced hand (David apparently didn’t even feel it happen!), and we’d waited to be photographed by one of the official photographers (who were each putting their subjects at ease in their own unique ways) we emerged into…rain. What a difference a ceremony makes! David Charles Townshend Bickers MBE and his guests walked in their increasingly wet finery to Sebastian Italian Restaurant (the compact nature of the lovely town is another advantage of the venue, especially in the rain!) and were met by David’s brother, Richard and nephew, Jonathon; the proud trustees of the charity Justin Cadbury, Guy Jackson (with wife Rosie), Robert Pascall, Stewart Riddick (with wife Vicki) and Keith Delderfield BEM (with wife Jess). Keith, Bader Braves originator and Co-ordinator and Director of the Bader Grant Scheme, who has been with the DBF almost since the beginning, had been awarded a BEM 2 years previously when Covid was at large and it was perfect opportunity to raise a glass and properly acknowledge his achievement as well. The meal ended with a lovely and very moving tribute from Tessa Bickers about her memories of growing up with David as her dad followed by Robert Pascall proposing a toast to acknowledge both David’s and Keith’s well deserved medals. To have received 2 honours in such a small team was a great accolade for the DBF.
Our thanks to all at Sebastian for coping with such a big party and a somewhat chaotic ordering technique with warmth, efficiency and delicious food!
The Investiture was a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable way to honour and celebrate such a worthy achievement by David Bickers, in the presence of so many other inspiring recipients. Certainly a day I shall never forget.
To be awarded an MBE is a huge honour both personally and for the Foundation formed in memory of such a great man David Charles Townshend Bickers MBE
Please join us in congratulating David Bickers on this well deserved award.
The Douglas Bader Foundation
A Charity to support amputees became a goal immediately following the death of Sir Douglas Bader when his family received dozens of mailbags full of letters of condolence containing hundreds of requests from amputees who Sir Douglas had visited personally. These letters all beseeched us not to let his inspiration die with him. Thus the idea was born. Initially the support was for amputees only as at that stage there was only one charity with that specific aim, however we later extended the remit to include people living with other physical and mental challenges.
David has compiled a beautiful book about the DBF from inception to the 40th Anniversary. Legend to Legacy is not a chronological book but designed to be picked up and opened at any page to reveal information about all aspects of the charity. It is available from the DBF Website Shop and you’ll find a link at the bottom of this post.
Links (will open in new tabs):
- DBF Website Shop – where you can purchase a copy of Legend to Legacy: 40th Anniversary of The Douglas Bader Foundation – 1982 – 2022
- The Investiture Ceremony
- Windsor Castle Fire
- History of Windsor Castle
NB: There will be a follow up to this post once the official photographs have been received and selected.