A Dedication Service for Group Captain Lord Leonard Cheshire and Lady Sue Ryder followed by an Act of Remembrance took place at 12 noon on Sunday 22 October 2023 at their grave in Cavendish Cemetery.
A number of friends and supporters assembled in the cemetery at 12 Noon. Twenty cadets from the 2470 Sudbury Air Training Corps then led a procession of three Banners (British Legion, 2470 Sudbury Air Training Corps and the Union Jack), Squadron Commander Flying Officer Andy Kubat, Clergy and Guests of Honour into the cemetery who stood opposite the gathering.
The Guests of Honour included Sue & Leonard’s daughter – Dr Elizabeth Cheshire, Bomber Command veteran Warrant Officer (Retd) Parke who had undertaken 40 Lancaster missions with 218 Squadron during the Second World War and Wing Commander AJ Walters, Chairman of the 617 Squadron Association.
The Service was led by The Revd Rob Parker-McGee who stood in for the Air Cadet Chaplain assisted by The Revd Mark Woodrow from St Mary’s church in the village. The Service included a poem which was a moving tribute to those involved in Bomber Command, selected by WO (Retd) Parke and read on his behalf. Fraser Gambling read a biography of Grp Capt Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder written by their daughter Elizabeth Cheshire. A floral bouquet was then laid by Elizabeth Cheshire on her parents’ grave followed by the laying of wreaths by two cadets, one on behalf of the 617 Squadron Association and the other on behalf of 2470 Sudbury Air Training Corps.
A cadet bugler signalled the start of a two minute SILENCE with the Last Post and the end with the Reveille.
After the National Anthem and a final blessing all were invited to refreshments at the Five Bells overlooking the village green a short distance from the cemetery. Once all were assembled in the sunshine there was a surprise fly past from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford which included a DH82 Tiger Moth, a Pilatus and three aerobatic planes.
The afternoon continued outside the Five Bells where memories of Grp Capt Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder were exchanged. The Air Cadets were delighted to hear from 98-year old Warrant Officer (Retd) Ray Parke on his wartime experiences.
All present considered the Dedication Service, Act of Remembrance and the flypast were a fitting tribute to a couple who had dedicated their lives to their country and to the service of others throughout the world.