Tributes paid to charity founder Bob Woodward

January 29 2019

TRIBUTES have been paid to humanitarian and CLIC Sargent founder Bob Woodward who died on January 20 at the age of 85.

Bob, who lived in Frenchay, established the charity CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood), one of two charities which later merged to form CLIC Sargent. 

He set out on a mission to improve standards of treatment, care and support for families facing childhood cancer after his son Robert was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 1974 and sadly died in 1977, aged 11.

He faced further tragedy when his son Hugh, who was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, died at the age of four after suffering a heart attack.

When Robert was diagnosed, Bob and his wife Judy suddenly became aware of the issues around cancer in young people and their families, including being a long way from home while receiving treatment. 

Bob established the very first ‘Home from Home’ in Bristol providing free accommodation for the families of young cancer patients where parents and siblings could stay together whilst their child is receiving treatment. CLIC Sargent now has 10 Homes from Home in the UK and is working to build more.

In a short space of time, Bob grew his vision to launch a series of charity shops covering south west England and Bristol saw the first CLIC funded nurses, specialising in paediatric cancer care. His charity also began funding paediatric cancer research and gained an army of volunteers.

Bob, who was called one of the world's greatest humanitarians by former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, was given a Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement award in 2011. This was followed by an OBE in 2014. He was also given an honorary degree from the University of Bristol.

In 2005, CLIC merged with Sargent Cancer Care for Children to become CLIC Sargent. Today, CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer support charity for children, young people and families.

Bob, a former property developer, became chief executive and subsequent patron of the Starfish Trust as well as patron and ambassador for Meningitis Now.

It has been estimated that Bob was personally responsible for raising more than £100m for charity. 

Kate Lee, CEO of CLIC Sargent, said: "We were really saddened to hear this news and send our heartfelt condolences to Bob’s family and friends at this difficult time. Many years ago, Bob set out on an incredible mission to improve the treatment options and support available to children and young people with cancer.  There is still a huge need for such support today and his legacy will live on especially in our many services such as our Homes from Home and nursing.

"Bob’s caring nature and his drive to not stop until every child and young person suffering from cancer receives better support, lives on in our charity’s values today. It’s with Bob’s commitment that we continue our mission to be there for the 12 children and young people who hear the devastating news that they have cancer each day."

Bob leaves his wife Judy, daughter Rachel, son James and granddaughter Laura.

See Kerry McCarthy on page 23.