Remembering Bob Woodward

Remembering Bob Woodward


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[p][b]Bob Woodward OBE, LL D 1933-2019[/b][/p][p]“One of the world’s greatest humanitarians”[/p][p]Mikhail Gorbachev[/p][p]“A truly unsung hero who takes your breath away”[/p][p]Former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron[/p][p]Life was good for Bristolian Bob Woodward in 1974. At 41, along with his brother John, he headed up Woodward Brothers, a property development company. With a full order book, one project alone for the development of 120 houses, Woodward Brothers were riding on the crest of a wave. But on Thursday 21st February 1974, Bob Woodward’s world fell apart. This was the day when his eight-year-old son Robert was diagnosed as having cancer.[/p][p]Young Robert’s diagnosis catapulted Bob from the good life into a whole new world. Bob didn't like what he saw and found. The prognosis was not good, with only three out ten of children diagnosed with cancer surviving.[/p][p]In 1974 treatment for young cancer sufferers was meagre. Shocked at the appalling lack of resources and facilities for the young patients and their families, Bob personally funded and pioneered the welfare of young cancer patients and their families during treatment. On his visits to Frenchay Hospital to see young Robert, he saw the plight of other parents whose children had been struck by cancer. He noted their struggle trying to hold their families together - often sleeping on hospital ward floors whilst their child was undergoing treatment. Bob was in a position to offer an immediate answer to this problem. He still had some properties left in his business portfolio. He provided and furnished one of them, free of charge, to create CLIC Cottage, the very first UK ‘Home-from-Home’ - a place within the hospital grounds where families could be together whilst their child was receiving treatment.[/p][p]Bob immediately launched himself into an all-consuming mission to improve standards of treatment, care and support for other families in a similar plight. Driven by his vision to create a charity that would eventually change the world of the child with cancer, Bob laid down tools and in 1976 he founded CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) to serve the southwest of England. Its resounding success under Bob’s leadership led to CLIC UK and then CLIC INTERNATIONAL with Mikhail Gorbachev travelling to Bristol to accept Bob’s invitation to be CLIC’s President.[/p][p]In addition to CLIC’s research and treatment programmes, Bob rounded up a vast army of people who came together to serve CLIC in the most incredible ways. They gave of their money, their energy and, above all, their precious time. Slowly with CLIC funding and spearheading dedicated childhood cancer research and treatment programmes, survival rates started to turn around. Incredibly Bob also found time to give pastoral care to the desperate families, and in the 21 years in which he was at the helm he attended 300 funerals of young cancer sufferers speaking at most of them. Sadly, Bob’s beloved son Robert died in 1977 aged 11 years. A year after losing Robert the Woodward family were blessed with a new arrival, Hugh. Hugh suffered with Down’s Syndrome and the family was further devastated four years later when he died of a heart attack.[/p][p]At 65 years old, and taking on a presidential role with CLIC, in 1998 Bob started his second ‘journey’ when he took up the role of Chief Executive to The Starfish Trust, an Almondsbury based charity funding the care and support of children suffering life threatening illnesses and disabilities. His tireless efforts with The Starfish Trust were pivotal in the development of six regional specialist hydrotherapy pools for disabled children, a meningitis research laboratory at the University of Bristol, Charlton Farm children’s hospice, The Starfish Technology centre for disabled students at the National Star College in Cheltenham and a specialist 35 bed specialist children's hospital unit within the grounds of Frenchay Hospital – now demolished.[/p][p]In 2005 CLIC merged with Sargent Cancer Care for Children. CLIC Sargent continues the CLIC vision instigated by Bob Woodward and today eight out of ten children diagnosed with cancer survive.[/p][p]At the time of Bob’s Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, research showed that he had been personally instrumental for raising over £100 million pounds for charity. Being diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer in 2003 did not prevent Bob from giving of himself in a wide variety of children’s charity initiatives, as well as projects such as securing a village green in Frenchay, Bristol.[/p][p]The remarkable achievements of Bob Woodward have been recognised over the years with many accolades, including an honorary degree from Bristol University, The Freedom of The City of Bristol and an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle in December 2014. More recently, he was delighted to be selected as one of 50 ‘Great Westerners’ and had one of GWR’s new trains named after him. [/p][p]Bob Woodward died on Sunday 20 January 2019, aged 85. He is survived by his wife Judy, daughter Rachel, son James and grand-daughter Laura.[/p][p][img][/img][/p]
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Mar 17, 2019

Guests at Bob’s Thanksgiving Service

Thank you to everyone who very generously donated at the Thanksgiving Service at Bristol Cathedral on 21st February 2019.


Mar 11, 2019

Roger and Pat Higgins

In memory of a truly warm hearted gentleman and a wonderful neighbour. The world will be a sadder place without him, but such a beautiful legacy he has left behind for so many parents and children.


plus £5.00 Gift Aid

Mar 10, 2019

Julia Norton

A wonderfully generous man who I was honoured to call a friend.


plus £25.00 Gift Aid

Mar 6, 2019


It has been a privilege and honour to have known Bob. A gentle giant, support and inspiration to so many people.


plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Mar 5, 2019

Derek and Diane Rowles


Mar 4, 2019

John and Marylyn Phillips

Feb 25, 2019

Watkins family

Rest in peace Bob and thank you for everything you did for so many people in need and for our community.


plus £7.50 Gift Aid

Feb 24, 2019

Sally and Stuart Clee

We thought the memorial service was a fitting tribute to a wonderful man


plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Feb 23, 2019


Such a great man! Fantastic sense of humour and so supportive. Thank you Bob.


plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Feb 22, 2019

Rounsley family

Bob was a unique man who served god wherever he could with amazing results.


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