Ronald Leedham: The Walk to Church on Sunday

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ronald describes the shame he felt every Sunday when he walked to church with school.

  • Ronald Leedham
  • Ronald Leedham


We found that when we got outside we were different, very, very different. The worst thing that we ever did, and the most insensitive thing that the society did, I think, was the walk to church on a Sunday. There were fifty of us kids, we all had to have our Sunday best on, our Sunday school uniform, cap, blue and white cap, grey jacket, grey shorts, no long-uns, grey shorts. So we all had our callipers showing and all that sort of thing. And there were fifty of us kids, can you imagine? Fifty of us kids walking through the town in a long crocodile. Thank God they didn’t make us hold hands, and we must have looked a sight. Kids walking along, clanking and squeaking with our callipers and limping and dragging. And then we went into the church and everybody turned around and looked at you, ‘cause we had our own block of seats in St Nicholas’s church in Sevenoaks. Lovely church, but we had our own block of seats on one side and of course everybody saw us ‘cause there were us block of odd looking boys. And then of course we had to walk back and by the time we got back we were all – we didn’t know it, but we were all traumatised, and that happened every Sunday, summer and winter.

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