The Starfish Trust (Reg registered charity No. 800203) was founded by Almondsbury business couple, Charles and Mary Dobson, on 28 September 1988 following an accident sustained by Julian Dobson, their 17- year-old son.
The Trust was originally entitled The Charles and Mary Dobson Charitable Trust. Its income was funded by the Dobsons gifting a percentage of their annual income into the trust.
The Charity Commission’s approved objectives for the trust are broad, allowing it to make grants ‘for or towards such exclusively charitable purposes or purpose or such exclusively charitable institution or institutions at such time or times and in such manner as the trustees in their absolute discretion think fit.’ In recent years the trust has narrowed these objectives down to providing grants to charities caring for children with disabilities within a 25-mile radius of central Bristol.
In 1995, with the successful growth of the Dobsons’ business, Spandex PLC, it was decided to boost the trust income by donating a percentage of the nett profits of Spandex into it. In addition, in 1995 the Dobsons gifted a percentage of their Spandex shares into the trust. The name of the trust was subsequently changed to The Spandex Foundation.
In 1997, CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) founder Bob Woodward joined The Spandex Foundation as its Chief Executive.
1998 the Dobsons sold Spandex and gifted a percentage of the sale proceeds into the trust. Its name was changed to The Starfish Trust. The name was chosen to perpetuate the favourite story of friend and associate David Baum, Professor of Child Health at Bristol University and President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
The Starfish Trust seconded Bob Woodward, free of charge, to many other local charities to assist them in advisory and fundraising roles, thus widening the scope and value of the trust’s work in and around Bristol and surrounding areas. Such roles included: Consultant and Patron to The Campaign for Resource for The University of Bristol; Campaign Advisor to the Jack & Jill Appeal to create a specialist children’s unit at the former Frenchay Hospital and Campaign Advisor to the Charlton Farm Children’s Hospice on the outskirts of Bristol.
In 2013, Bob, at 80 years old, retired from his Chief Executive role with the trust and took up the role as Patron, a position he held until his sad passing in January 2019.
In 2014 Julian Dobson was appointed as a trustee. Julian’s wife Suzanne was appointed as a trustee in 2019.
Major grants are outlined on The Starfish Trust home page, with further grant information found on ‘Our late Patron’s story’ page.
The Starfish Trust is funded by the trustees and does not accept donations from third parties.