"A truly unsung hero who takes your breath away"
UK Prime Minister, David Cameron
"One of the world's greatest humanitarians"
Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev
In 1976 seven out of ten children diagnosed with cancer died. Today, eight out of ten survive. The foundation stone laid down in 1976 that kick-started this remarkable turnaround bears the charity name CLIC. The vision and mission of CLIC can be attributed to one man, CLIC's founder, Bob Woodward.
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.
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 seven out ten of all children being diagnosed with cancer dying.
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 hospital visits 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 quickly provided and furnished one of them, free of charge, to create the very first UK 'Home-from-Home' - a place where families could be together whilst their child was receiving treatment in the local hospital.
Bob then 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 his builder's tools in 1976 and founded CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) to serve the southwest of England.
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 Downs Syndrome and the family was further devastated 4 years later when he died of a heart attack.
The resounding success of CLIC in the southwest led to the creation of CLIC UK, serving the whole of the United Kingdom, with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent becoming its Patron.
HRH The Duchess of Kent becomes Patron of CLIC UK
Over the years Bob encouraged a vast army of people to came together to serve CLIC in the most incredible ways. They gave of their money, their energy and, above all, their precious time.
The CLIC Army!
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.
1993 saw the founding of CLIC INTERNATIONAL with Mikhail Gorbechev accepting Bob's invitation for him to become its President.
Mikhael Gorbechev becomes President of CLIC International
In 2005 CLIC merged with Sargent Cancer Care for Children to become CLIC Sargent. CLIC Sargent, now the biggest childrens's cancer charity in the UK, continues the CLIC vision instigated by Bob Woodward and today eight out of ten children diagnosed with cancer survive.
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, a charity funding the care and support of children suffering life threatening illnesses and disabilities.
His tireless efforts with The Starfish Trust was pivotal in the development of six specialist hydrotherapy pools for disabled children, a meningitis research laboratory, a children's hospice, a technology centre for disabled students and a 35 bed specialist children's hospital unit. At the time of Bob's Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 research showed that he had been personally responsible for raising over £100 million pounds for charity. Being diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer in 2003 has not prevented Bob from giving of himself in a wide variety of children's charity initiatives.
Eight year old George Marshall enjoying himself in a Starfish hydrotherapy pool
Although officially 'retiring' on his 80th birthday in 2013, Bob, now Patron of The Starfish Trust, continues his work of enriching the lives of others, his most recent being the securing of grants resulting in the development a major hydrotherapy Starfish pool for disabled children at Claremont Secondary School, Bristol, England.
The remarkable achievements of Bob Woodward have been recognised over the years with many accolades, culminating in him receiving an OBE from Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle in December 2014.
Proud moment for Bob receiving his OBE from Her Majesty The Queen