Bob Woodward, founder of Clicsargent

The charity logo is young lives against cancer
A photo of the staff of the Clic shop with Mr. Woodward.
I was able to take a photo a few weeks ago when Bob visited our clicsargent shop to buy his Christmas cards. Bob Woodward is second from the right.

I suppose most people in England have heard of clicsargent  a charity that supports children and young people with cancer. But I wonder how many people know the story of the remarkable man behind its foundation.

Robert Woodward was born in 1934 close to where I live in Bristol  and was a former pupil of the  junior school, Dr Bells  which my older children attended.  He left school at 14 and became a builder.  He  must have shown an early flair for business as he was able to set up a very successful property  development company with his brother.

However his life changed  when his son also called Robert was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 1974 at the age of eight.  At that time the outlook was bleak.  Most children who got cancer died. Robert was treated at Frenchay hospital near Bristol and Bob and  his wife Judy spent a lot of time talking with other parents at the hospital.  They lived close by but they realised that  other parents were sleeping on the hospital floor to be near their children. They also learnt at first hand the practical, financial and emotional problems parents faced coping with a child with cancer. Sadly Robert died at the age of 11.

The origins of Clicsargent

Despite their own difficulties they decided to help. Bob used his own money to buy and furnish a house the parents of the sick children could use.  Clic cottage was built as a home from home in the grounds of the hospital.  He also founded a charity to raise funds to help with the costs of caring for children with cancer:  Clic which is short for cancer and leukaemia in childhood.

From its small beginnings in  Frenchay it has grown to be one of the largest children’s cancer charities in the country. As well as ten clic cottages where parents can stay while their children are being treated for cancer, it also funds specialist nurses and gives financial grants to families in difficulties. It now also supports teenagers and young people with cancer.

In case you are wondering the Sargent part of the name comes from a merger with a similar charity founded by the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent.

The charity still continues its mission to be there for the 12 children in the UK who are diagnosed with cancer each day.  Thankfully nowadays the outlook is much brighter eight out of ten children and young people diagnosed with cancer survive. Find out more here Clicsargent

The Woodward family suffered further tragedy when a younger son who had Downs syndrome died at the age of 4. This led Bob to become CEO of a second charity the starfish trust, which funds care and support for children suffering from  other life limiting illnesses and disabilities.  The starfish trust has been pivotal in providing six specialist hydrotherapy pools, a meningitis research laboratory  and a technology centre for disabled students.

Bob received an OBE from the Queen in 2014 and even had a Great Western railway engine named after him. In 2012 he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Frenchay.

Sadly Bob lost his own fight against cancer last week but I was able to take his photo when he visited our shop just before Christmas to buy his Christmas cards.

This shows three volunteers in the store room. I am in the middle
Volunteering in the Fishponds shop

The clic Fishponds shop

I have been volunteering a couple of mornings a week for about 10 years in our local CLIC shop. Bob decided to set up shops to raise funds and our shop in Fishponds was number one. We are naturally proud of this.  The charity has raised over one hundred million to support children and young people with cancer  and our shop has raised over a million pounds in the thirty years it has been open.

It is always good to hear from people who have been helped by the charity. One of our former volunteers is  a young woman who has survived childhood leukaemia. She was given a computer by the charity. This enabled her to continue her school work at home and eventually obtain a place at university.  A couple of years ago our shop was badly damaged in an arson attack and Melissa was chosen to cut the tape to reopen the shop.

Melissa who had cancer as a child cutting the ribbon to reopen the Fishponds clic shop
Melissa reopening the Clic shop in Fishponds in 2017

The Bristol knittivity

Knitted figures at night by the Clifton Suspension bridge

The Bristol Knittivity

Life size knitted nativity figures ~ Bristol knittivity in Sainsbury's
These life size nativity figures have raised over £150,000 for a local hospice

The Bristol knittivity has become a familiar sight  in shopping centres around Bristol just before Christmas. However I thought you might be interested in the story behind its creation.   A few years ago a group of friends who worked at St. Teresa’s catholic school in Horfield, Bristol started a knitting group called the knutty knitters. When Christine, one of the group became ill with cancer and  sadly died  her friends decided to do something to raise funds for St. Peter’s hospice where she had spent her last weeks. St. Peter’s hospice is the only adult hospice in Bristol and each year they care for about 2,500 patients. Care is provided free of charge but the hospice costs about £20,000 a day to run. About £15,000 of this comes from legacies, donations and shop purchases.

The ladies decided to use their hobby to raise funds and the Bristol knittivity was the result.  Eventually the seven knutty knitters made 13 figures, 3 kings, 2 shepherds, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an angel, a donkey, a sheep, a lamb and a camel. Each figure used up to 7 lbs of wool and took about 9 months to knit. The talented ladies even made their own patterns.

Each year St. Peter’s hospice choose the figures for one of their charity Christmas cards and  photograph them against a famous Bristol landmark  like the Clifton suspension bridge or the Cabot tower.

Knitted figures at night by the Clifton Suspension bridge # Bristol knittivity
The Knittivity by the Clifton Suspension bridge was a best seller for St. Peter’s hospice a couple of years ago.

The future

The knutty knitters have raised over £150,000 from the knitivity but unfortunately this will be the last year it will be on display as it is getting old and worn. In my photo taken in a local supermarket  the poor donkey and camel are showing the effects of too many children trying to ride them. The knutty knitters have knitted a smaller version of the nativity for display at St. Peter’s hospice and I have heard that there may be knitted penguins on tour next year.

For those people who are old enough to remember the two Ronnies sketch, my favourite card from St. Peter’s hospice this year has to be Four candles

This post is linked to The grand social for blogging grandparents


A grand day out. Gromit unleashed 2 in Bristol

The Horn Bridge at Night

A Grand day out in Bristol

Gromit from the Gromit trail as one of the paw patrol characters.
This Gromit was designed by the Paw Patrol team and is at Chew Valley lake.


Wallace dressed as a space man sitting with a cup of tea
Wallace raising money outside Bristol children’s hospital.  Payment can be made here using a contactless card.

There is a brand new Wallace and Gromit sculpture  trail, Gromit unleashed 2 running in Bristol from 2 July to 2nd September with over sixty sculptures dotted around the city and surrounding areas  to raise money for the Wallace and Gromit Grand appeal for Bristol Children’s hospital and the St. Michael’s hospital special care baby unit.  Bristol children’s hospital treats more than 100,000 patients every year and cares for patients from Bristol and the South West of England.

Many of the figures have been painted by well known artists and represent famous Bristol characters like W.G. Grace, the cricketer in my photo.  The Lego design team have created a model using over 30,000 bricks and the Paw patrol team have also painted a Gromit.  Aardman animation which produced Morph, Creature Comforts, Shaun the sheep and Chicken run as well as the Wallace and Gromit films is based in Bristol and Nick Park , a founder of Aardman studios is a patron of this appeal.

New for 2018

For 2018 Wallace and Gromit are joined by their arch enemy Feathers McGraw and are positioned in iconic locations around Bristol and surrounding areas. The detect-o-gromit app is available to purchase from app stores for both iPhone and android for £1.99.   It has both short and longer trail routes and includes a pedometer which rewards you for 10,000 steps and has more details about the work done by the children’s hospital. A trail map is also available from the Bristol tourist office and Bristol museums. More information can  be found on the Gromit Unleashed facebook page.

The first Gromit unleashed trail and the Shaun the sheep trail raised £6 million for Bristol children’s hospital and this time they are hoping to do even better. Sculptures are  auctioned off at the end of the season and many end up at well known locations.

If you live near Bristol I think it would make a grand day out for you and your  family.  It will also help you all to get fitter while having fun and discovering new parts of the city.

A sculpture of Wallace dressed as W.G Grace
A figure from the Gromit trail, Wallace dressed as the Cricketer W.G. Grace by Downend Cricket club where he started his career.


First bus have a day family ticket for £8.00 if purchased through their app which allows a family of five to travel throughout the Bristol Inner zone and includes a 10p donation to the charity.