The inspirational Douglas Bader Foundation

Posted on Monday 23rd July, 2012

The Douglas Bader Foundation is the UK's most well known charity aimed at helping people who are living with limb loss whether congenital or amputee.  Its work is truly inspirational and it has also established a fantastic resource in the Limb Loss Information Centre website. 
DBF founded the Amputee Games, now run by Limb Power and we'll be bringing you more about this in the weeks to come. 
Today, we're really pleased to feature an article about DBF and we at DysNet/EDRIC hope to forge close links between our organisations into the future. 


"Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do this or that.  That's nonsense.  Make up your mind, you'll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything.  Go to school, join in all the games you can.  Go anywhere you want to.  But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible." (Sir Douglas Bader)

DBF imageDouglas Bader's life history, especially his war record, astonishing given the loss of both his legs following some ill-judged aerobatics in December 1931, is well known. 

Following his death, it was evident the extent to which he had helped and encouraged other disabled people from the hundreds of letters his family received following his death.  They expressed the hope that this work should continue and so The Douglas Bader Foundation was founded with the aim of helping amputees and other disabled through practical action and positive inspiration as Sir Douglas himself had done. 
Since then, DBF has helped many amputees, people suffering from congenital limb loss and other disabilities, through a variety of initiatives. 
The Douglas Bader Centre at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, was opened in 1993 and the Bader Grant scheme has helped many towards achieving personal goals whether in sport and recreation, the arts, business or education. 

A Bader Walking School was opened in Kuala Lumpur and is helping many amputees there towards rehabilitation and independence. 
The Bader Amputee Games was devised specifically to encourage traumatic amputees to experience sport, many trying a new sport for the first time.  Through the medium of sport they were able to meet other disabled and some reported their first experience of breaking out of the sense of isolation and self-consciousness that many new amputees feel.  This has now gone on to great success as the Amputee Games under the auspices of LimbPower. 

Assisted by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, one of the Foundation's major achievements has been the creation of the Limb Loss Information Centre.  With more charities, associations and organisations springing up to assist those with limb loss, the Foundation recognised the need for a central information resource offering the broadest possible knowledge base with relevant data being provided by all related charities and organisations in the UK.  Here, amputees have access to relevant contemporary news stories and a wealth of helpful diverse information ranging from where to buy specifically designed underwear to advice on the latest therapies with, we hope, almost everything they might need to know to assist them in their pursuance of independent living in between.  A team of advisers is on hand to help, with e-mail enquirers being advised directly or guided to those best able to help them. 

There is a popular Discussion Forum where most contributors are able to find honest and supportive answers to their queries, worries and fears from others with first-hand experience.  A recently added service, "Limb-Line", offers the possibility of one-to-one communication with a fellow amputee for practical advice or simply a sympathetic ear. 
In the case of new amputees particularly, we hope that this involvement will go beyond the website boundaries and that they will become aware of the very supportive amputee community and, hopefully, feel less isolated by their disability. 

In 2010, Sir Douglas's Centenary Year, the Bader Braves was launched, an imaginative venture inspired by Douglas's honorary Chieftainship of a Canadian Indian Tribe (a tribute he took very seriously and which meant a great deal to him personally) and the bravery of children with limb loss and other disabilities in their efforts to live normal lives was launched.  Bader Braves supports these children by offering unique experiences and challenges and improving life-skills to increase self-esteem and confidence. 

The Bader Braves Young Aviators Day Programme offer youngsters from 6-16 with limbloss and other disabilities the opportunity to experience, often for the first time, flight in a light aircraft.  This literally uplifting experience has a hugely beneficial effect on the Braves who, frequently wheelchair-bound, have the rare chance to see the world from a greater height than their peers.  The looks on their faces as they return to earth is proof enough of the joy and freedom that the experience of flying can bring.  This, coupled with an all expenses paid day out benefits the whole family. 

The DBF also organises Bader Braves "Challenge" Weekends at the Calvert Trust venues in Northumberland and Exmoor.  On these residential weekends, the families meet others facing similar personal challenges and the children can take part in a wide variety of activities all specifically designed to enable full participation by those with physical disabilities while in a safe environment. 
We are continually looking for new ways to develop the charity and offer help to amputees and other disabled.  The number of amputees is increasing all the time for a variety of reasons and, with counselling for new amputees often felt to be inadequate, we are working on developing a cohesive support system for traumatic amputees and already have a carefully selected team of "Ambassadors" to assist and advise. 

The charity maxim: "A disabled person who fights back is not disabled but inspired" based on a quote by Sir Douglas himself has never been more relevant. 

More information on both The Douglas Bader Foundation and The Limb Loss Information Centre and on Sir Douglas Bader himself can be found on the Websites:

Charity Commission Registration Number:800435

Tags: Douglas Bader Foundation amputee cngenital lomb loss limb difference UK charity disability Article Article


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