Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire was born on 7 September 1917.
His childhood and youth were lived at the family home of Greywalls near Oxford with his parents Geoffrey and Primrose and his younger brother Christopher. Following in his father's footsteps to study law at Oxford University, he was commissioned into the reserve of the RAF as a student. So started what was to become a legendary war career.
He served almost without interruption in Bomber Command, flying a record of one hundred bombing missions. He was the most highly decorated bomber pilot of the Second World War, and received the accolade of the Victoria Cross. At one stage, he dropped a rank to take command of the famous 617 Squadron, the Dambusters.
Back as a civilian, he set up a community for ex-servicemen and women at his home Le Court in Hampshire. The scheme did not prosper but, at the beginning of 1948 and now living alone at Le Court, he agreed to look after one of the community members who was dying of cancer and had nowhere else to go. Cheshire found others coming to him for help, and so started the work which today is carried on in his name with disabled people across the globe.
On 5 April 1959 Leonard Cheshire married Sue Ryder, whose own international charitable work was well established. Home for them and their two children was in the Suffolk village of Cavendish, though both spent a large part of the year visiting their humanitarian projects worldwide. Leonard Cheshire's award of the Order of Merit was announced on 5 February 1981 and his elevation to the peerage on 15 June 1991.
Leonard Cheshire died from the effects of motor neurone disease on 31 July 1992.