Wednesday 10 December 2014

Douglas Bader - the Later Years

It was golf that brought Douglas to his second wife. He had met Joan Murray some years before when they were partnered in a golfing competition organised in support of the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association. She had taken the place of Douglas’s original partner who had to drop out.Joan and Douglas were married quietly on 3rd January 1963 in a church near Coventry. The vicar, the Reverend Tom Knight, was yet another of Douglas’s friends. In a former life Tom Knight had been a Group Captain in charge of a bomber station. Like Douglas, Joan had a great interest in helping people with disabilities. In addition to her involvement with the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association, she was also one of the original volunteer supporters of Riding for the Disabled, of which Douglas was an honorary life president.
Following their marriage Douglas and Joan received countless invitations to speak and to attend events. They continued to fulfil engagements all over the world although long journeys were now made by commercial airliners and not by private aircraft. In most cases the main purpose of their journey was to assist in the cause of the disabled and they continued to campaign vigorously for people with disabilities. Douglas was a perfect example of how a disability could be overcome and both knew that by meeting people with disabilities he could plainly demonstrate what was possible.
In June 1976 Douglas received a knighthood for his services to disabled people. This could have been a great embarrassment, because protocol dictated that one had to kneel while being dubbed with the sword. Douglas knew that this would be a recipe for disaster because he would certainly fall flat on his face. As a result he was given special dispensation from the Queen to receive his knighthood standing up.
Other awards were to follow.  Despite his charity work Douglas still found time to maintain his interest in aviation and in 1977 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

From "Douglas Bader" by Michael Evans

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