She was born in 1923 to land gentry from Suffolk County in the East of England. It was the family home that planted in her the great need to help the poor and the disadvantaged.
After the outbreak of World War II, only 16 years old, she volunteered to join the First Aid Nurses Yeomanry. Later she served in the Polish section of Special Operations Executive, where, among other things, in August 1944, she sent airdrops of arms for fighting Warsaw. She collaborated with the Silent Unseen paratroopers, whose courage, determination and dedication had a great impact on her future. In Poland, she established 30 Sue Ryder Houses (nursing homes and a hospice handed over to the Polish state), which took in the sick, lonely and homeless.
In 1978 she received a title of nobility from Queen Elizabeth II. She chose… Warsaw as her territory! In the British House of Lords she was known as Lady Ryder of Warsaw. She was awarded honorary citizenship of Warsaw (1993), Gdynia and Konstancin-Jeziorna. She was a great advocate of Polish affairs and she is still too little known in our country.
In 1953 she established a foundation named after her. The Sue Ryder Foundation has built more than 80 houses in 15 countries around the globe, which still serve the sick and suffering. Until 1978 she had organised rest and rehabilitation trips to Great Britain for former concentration camp prisoners. About 8 thousand people, mainly Poles, took advantage of this assistance. At the same time she visited the Allied prisons, saving the lives of many condemned to death. To finance the activities of her foundation, Sue Ryder set up over 600 charity shops.
She passed away in 2000, leaving a huge legacy of goodness behind her and obliging future generations to work for others.
founder of the Foundation, philanthropist, a great friend of Poland
the Foundation's activities in Poland
year of establishing
the first charity shop in Poland
% of profits
transferred for statutory purposes of the Foundation
Activities in Poland date back to 1956 – it was then that Sue Ryder started her mission, lasting over 60 years, building nursing homes first. In the beginning, Sue Ryder was supported by volunteers, including concentration camp prisoners, war veterans and their families. The Foundation has been registered in Poland since 1991, and since 2004 it has had the status of a public benefit organisation. It continuously develops the founder’s work, which is to help people suffering from health and social problems and to activate the elderly. The organisation takes action countrywide, but its main area of activity is Warsaw. Aside from 30 Sue Ryder’s Homes, the Foundation founded i.e. the Oncological Ward of the Maritime Hospital in Gdynia and the Professor Eleonora Reicher, PhD MD Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Ward of the National Institute of Geriatrics, Rheumatology and Rehabilitation in Konstancin-Jeziorna.
In recent years the Foundation
founded or co-founded, among others.:
- expansion of the Rehabilitation, Education and Care Centre of the Society of Friends of Children in Helenów,
- renovation of the roof of the Pavilion at the Nursing Home in Psary,
- construction of the Sue Ryder Rehabilitation Clinic in the Family Medical Centre in Bialystok,
- equipping a specialist car for children from the home hospice in Bydgoszcz,
- renovation of the kindergarten and purchase of a car for the Single Mother’s Home in Biała near Płock,
- extension of the Sue Ryder House in Pierzchnica,
Currently the Foundation
focuses its activities on:
- developing a network of charity shops,
- organisation of the Centre for Intergenerational Activity “Thirteen” at ul. Bagatela 13 in Warsaw,
- launching the educational-volunteer program “Joshua” for primary and secondary schools,
- implementing Sue Ryder MED care and nursing services,
- developing CSR programs,