Don Sinclair, how can we thank you?

Dr Don Sinclair recently retired as the President of the Ryder-Cheshire Victorian Homes Foundation and as a Board Member of Ryder-Cheshire Australia. Don is a living link to our founders Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire and a treasury of knowledge and experience in all aspects of the Ryder-Cheshire story. He is an inspiration, mentor, colleague and friend to us all and we are so glad that he is continuing as a member of the committee of the Ryder-Cheshire Victorian Homes and also of Ryder-Cheshire Victoria.

Below is the main text of a letter of appreciation written to Don by Peter Newton, the President of Ryder-Cheshire Australia.  The letter details the wonderful contribution that Don has made to every aspect of the Ryder-Cheshire organisation in Australia as well as Raphael in India and Klibur Domin in Timor-Leste.

On behalf of the entire Ryder-Cheshire family in Australia, in India and in Timor-Leste, I thank you for your magnificent contribution over the past five decades. There is no one who has given more of themselves to advance the mission of Ryder-Cheshire in Australia and the overseas homes that we support.

Your involvement goes back to when the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation Victoria first formed in the early1960s. You were involved from the very early days and spent nearly 50 years as the Victorian Foundation’s Honorary Treasurer, doing an outstanding job in ensuring the funds were accurately accounted for and used wisely.

In September 1981, you became a founding Committee member of the Ryder-Cheshire Victorian Homes Foundation when it was decided to lease two RSL War Widow’s blocks in Ivanhoe. You took over as President in September1992 and retained this role for the next 23 years until your retirement at the recent AGM. During this time, the Homes have gone from strength to strength and acquired an impressive reputation.

While President, you oversaw the acquisition and refurbishment of the two blocks leased from the RSL. This was a huge task involving many legal, financial and contractual issues which you handled with your usual thoroughness, diplomacy and skill. These same talents allowed you to lead the team that planned and arranged the present project to provide lifts and air-conditioning to the two blocks. The fact that the Homes have provided excellent accommodation and care to many hundreds of people each year is in no small part due to your dedication, leadership and organising skills.

In 2002, you took over from Air Marshal Jake Newham as the President of the Australian Association of Ryder-Cheshire Foundations, a very sensitive and difficult role. At about the same time, a large bequest from Dame Roma Mitchell, a previous National President, meant that some funds were available for major projects. You were able to overcome many sensitive issues which allowed funds to be released to help fund a new home for disabled persons in Mt Gambier. You officially opened this home in April 2006.

You travelled to Raphael in India and Klibur Domin in Timor-Leste to monitor and encourage their work. You negotiated with their Governing Council and Board of Management to set in place new projects, including outreach projects to assist children with disabilities in their homes in both countries plus a Mobile Tuberculosis Team at Klibur Domin. Thousands of sick, disabled and destitute people are being assisted every year in these two overseas homes.

In 2006 the National Executive decided that the then Australian Association of Ryder-Cheshire Foundations should become a company (Ryder-Cheshire Australia) rather than an incorporated body. Again, you took the lead in this and worked through all the legal obstacles to achieve this aim.

Don is showing a resident of Shiv Sadan at Raphael a photo of herself in April 2009
Don is showing a resident of Shiv Sadan at Raphael a photo of herself in April 2009

In February 2007, you led an Odyssey Travel tour to India, and the group, which included Ryder-Cheshire committee members and supporters, spent three days at Raphael in Dehra Dun, observing the wonderful work being undertaken at the home.

Don, you have proved yourself to be an outstanding humanitarian during more than 50 years of dedicated service to Ryder-Cheshire. You are a natural leader who has made people feel very much at ease and you have encouraged their active participation to achieve goals. Your energy levels have made much younger people feel tired as you have led the way by example.

In recognition of your services to education and to humanitarian endeavours, you were awarded an honour in the Australia Day Honours List in 2009. This was an appropriate acknowledgement of your tremendous contribution to Ryder-Cheshire and to other organisations in your lifetime.

Yours is a most impressive story of dedication and commitment to the ideals espoused by our founders, Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire, and we all express our sincere thanks and gratitude to you.