By Geoff Fox ONE of the most famous amputees in history was honoured at the official opening of a rehabilitation centre.
Lady Joan Bader OBE, wife of the late RAF hero Sir Douglas, and president of the Douglas Bader Foundation, was guest of honour at Seacroft Specialist Rehabilitation Centre's ceremony yesterday.
Fighter ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a plane crash in 1931.
He was fitted with prosthetic limbs and went on to have a distinguished RAF career immortalised in the classic film Reach for the Sky.
Lady Joan married Sir Douglas in 1972. He died in 1982 and the Bader Foundation was established seven years later.
The Foundation's support is a recognition of the centre's international reputation for the rehabilitation of patients with serious limb injuries.
Lady Bader said: "I am delighted to lend my support to the fantastic work carried out in Leeds.
"The expertise of staff there has helped many hundreds of seriously injured people to rebuild their lives.
"I know Douglas would want me to extend his sincerest congratulations to the whole team for a job well done."
The Foundation is a registered charity supporting a range of rehabilitation projects in the UK and overseas.
Since the outbreak of the Second World War amputee rehabilitation services in Leeds had been based at Chapel Allerton Hospital.
The services moved to a new home at Seacroft Hospital to make way for the development of a specialist orthopaedic centre for the city.
The new facility has been designed in partnership with patients.
It boasts larger premises with integration of the three specialist services of prosthetics, orthotics – braces and splints – and wheelchairs, to provide a holistic patient centre for disabled people.
Jill Grant chairman of the Leeds Amputee User Forum said: "We were extremely
honoured that Lady Bader agreed to officially open the new centre.
"The service here in Leeds has long been considered a world leader in its field and the excellent new facilities at Seacroft Hospital will help to continue that reputation."
Trust chief executive Neil McKay welcomed the development as a key stage in the development of the Seacroft site.
He said: "We have firm plans in place to transform Seacroft Hospital into a leading ambulatory care facility offering a range of local and regional services.
"The opening of the Seacroft Specialist Rehabilitation Centre represents an important first step on the road to achieving that vision."