Wiltshire Publications

Issue 456 – Henry Leigh is Westbury’s Person of the Year

WESTBURY’S Person of the Year 2009 has been revealed as Henry Leigh.

Henry was the overall winner of our first ever Person of the Year poll, organised by White Horse News.
It was a close contest but in the end Henry pipped the other three finalists, Hilary Reed, Bev Donnelly and Nigel Inseal and to the post.
Henry said, “I’m absolutely gobsmacked! I had a fear of coming last. The response has been great, I’ve had people stopping me in the town, people ringing me up, I’m amazed at the reaction.”
Henry is the founder of Belarussian Ray of Hope, a charity that works to alleviate the suffering of disabled children in areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
He added, “I’m not a person who thinks of myself normally at all. My wife Anne deserves as much credit as me, she’s the backbone of everything at the end of the day, I’m just the mouthpiece.
“It’s hard to describe, it feels good. I never ever expected to win, it’s fantastic. I want to say thank you to everyone who voted.”
In 1983, Henry and Anne moved to the area from the north-east, where they had fostered 97 children, moving to Westbury shortly afterwards. In 1997 Henry and Anne became involved in the charity Chernobyl Children Life Line, and formed new links for the charity in Bristol.
Later on they decided they wanted to work more specifically with disabled children and set up Belarussian Ray of Hope, which aims to benefit disabled children from Belarus, often by bringing them to England for a holiday, and medical treatment. Despite Henry suffering from a disability, the couple have hosted 43 children, and worked with hundreds more.
“We get a great deal of pleasure from the work we do,” said Henry. “When a disabled child says that they can walk now, and three years earlier they were asking ‘Can you learn me to walk’, it’s beyond words to describe.”