Tribute: Donald Bedford

Wendover News regrets to inform readers that Donald Bedford, former manager of the Chilterns MS Centre, passed away peacefully in hospital on 5 December 2015, aged 91. Tragically, just a few days after his wife, Irene.

Donald had a background in Pathology and Immunology and worked for many years in medical research. He became manager of the Chilterns MS Centre, not long after it was founded in 1985 to provide hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) to people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the local area. As the members grew he managed to find the resources to expand services and set high standards for the provision of those additional services such as physiotherapy. Donald made sure the Centre was inclusive to anyone who had been diagnosed with MS who needed support, he also understood that a diagnosis impacted on their family and friends, so welcomed them too. He always encouraged and supported initiatives to expand knowledge, understanding and care through courses, networking and communication. During the 1980’s and 1990’s Donald was very active at a national level within ARMS (Action into Research MS), that later became MS National Therapy Centres (MSNTC). He had a ‘winning way’ of attracting help and fundraising, often supported by his wife Irene. Here Centre members and supporters, past and present, remember Donald.

Donald Bedford was dedicated to helping people with MS in the region. He ran the MS Centre with the ethos “helping people to help themselves”. He was keen that nobody with MS should be turned away from the Centre even if they could not afford to make a contribution to costs. Donald was instrumental in the very early negotiations with the Ministry of Defence which later paved the way for the new premises we moved into in 2012.

Linda Oatley, current Chair of the Trustees

I first met Donald in May 1999 when I was advised by my sister, also an MS sufferer, to attend my local MS Therapy Centre. She told me I was fortunate as my local Centre was managed by Donald Bedford who was highly thought of within ARMS. His words of advice to me at the age of 31 were ‘ Julie you can put a blanket over your knee and feel sorry for yourself or embrace life and accept your condition’. These were very wise words and ones that have stuck with me for the last 17 years. Donald worked tirelessly for the Centre, often late into the night, chatting away to members and listening to all their problems.

Julie Dean, Centre member & Trustee

He was always there for advice and comforting words for colleagues like me, the patients, their friends and relations. His sense of humour and humility was the very basis for the Centre as it grew bigger and provided care to more members in our area; it was this that made our centre so special. We made it our motto that we gave a very professional service in an informal manner. He was ALWAYS there to listen and to give advice.

Dagny Karlander, friend and former colleague

Donald served the Centre from the year after it opened. He did it with a light touch and had infinite patience with users, carers and staff alike. It was not unusual to see Donald working late into the night and whatever was needed to improve the centre was provided and nobody but Donald knew how the Centre grew and flourished. He was like a wise father; this gentle man will be missed by all who knew him.

Wilma Anic, friend and former colleague

Contacts & further

01296 696133

The Chilterns MS Centre, Oakwood Close, Wendover, Bucks HP22 5LX

Registered Charity 800853