It is a legacy which keeps on giving.

The Rob George Foundation was set up five years ago and to date its band of dedicated volunteers has seen it raise some £900,000 to support needy and deserving young people as Rob had wanted.

Rob was just 21 when his life was cut short by leukaemia in 2013.

He was a talented sportsman who excelled at golf, cricket and hockey.

David Cant, one of the foundation’s six trustees, summed up the determination of those behind it, which although based in Colchester, supports young people all over the country.

He said: “Rob was a young life so full of potential that was tragically cut short.

“Rob wanted his life to make a difference to others. He was robbed of the opportunity to do so, but we have the opportunity to see his legacy through.

“It gives you motivation to ensure Rob’s wishes come true.”

Under its two aims, the foundation awards grants to young people in need of financial and practical support.

Some recipients who are seriously ill have been supported with essentials like bed linen, furniture, hospital travelling goods, laptops to reduce isolation in hospital and extra educational courses.

Others have been assisted with costs in sports and performing arts pursuits such as for training, coaching, equipment, travel and competition fees.

The foundation has now awarded 654 grants and in the financial year 2017-18, in the east of England alone, these totalled £12,300.

It started taking applications in January 2014 and it believes support should be given to youngsters wherever in the United Kingdom they live.

The foundation’s mission is to “Make a difference - one individual at a time”.

Mr Cant added: “When you read the applications you realise how much of a difference you can make to a young person’s life.

“It is the ultimate motivation really and then you want to help the next person.”

Some families of recipients have felt so indebted to the foundation for its support, they’ve given something back themselves.

“One that springs to mind is a mother who lost her daughter who had a brain tumour.

“We provided ten art therapy sessions for her.

“After she died, her mother arranged a charity event where they made driftwood mirrors and mosaics to sell for the foundation.

“Because she held the event from her house, it motivated her to decorate it for Christmas even though she’d just lost her daughter,” Mr Cant added.

One focus for the foundation now is to lobby the Government to support young people who need financial help if they become seriously unwell while studying as was the case with former Colchester Royal Grammar School student Rob.


Promise - Rob was talented sportsman

Rob won a place at Loughborough University, drawn there because of its outstanding sports facilities.

His diagnosis meant he had to defer his second year, spending most of that summer as an inpatient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where his parents, Lorraine and Philip, were constantly by his side.

He underwent four separate sessions of intensive chemotherapy and suffered the inevitable side-effects.

Rob found himself with no money as his student loan had ceased because he was not at that time studying, and yet he was, of course, unfit to undertake any type of work.

In July 2011, with the support of his father, Philip, Rob submitted an application for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) having been advised by the Macmillan Cancer Support charity he would qualify.

But a month later Rob was amazed to find his application had been rejected on the grounds he remained in full time education and had not “abandoned his course”.

An appeal was successful but it was not until February 2012 Rob received his back-dated entitlement of ESA.

By that time, Rob’s treatment had finished, and, typical of his character, he had successfully sought both paid and unpaid work. He had no need, therefore, to make a further claim for ESA.

By this time, Philip had met with his then MP, Sir Bob Russell, who had advised him to make an application for Disability Living Allowance to help support Rob financially.

Despite Sir Bob writing a letter to the Department for Work and Pensions to support Rob’s claim, this application, too, was unsuccessful.

When Rob’s leukaemia returned he had no choice other than, once again, to defer his university studies for a further year.

This time his application for ESA was rejected and the Government argued Rob was not entitled because he was ‘in education’.

Rob spent the last month of his life in St Helena Hospice in Colchester.

He died there on December 9, 2013.


Fundraising - (from left) trustee David Cant, England cricketer and charity patron Graham Gooch, England cricketer John Emburey and Rob’s father, Philip George

Rob’s next appeal for ESA was due to heard at 10am on the morning of his death.

A string of politicians from former Prime Minister David Cameron to Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd have been asked for their support to lobby for change so students in situations like Rob don’t have to go through what he did.

Mr Cant said: “We say how long does it take? It is five years and counting since we have made them aware.

"They are the forgotten people – the forgotten part of the population.”

Colchester MP Will Quince has taken up the baton and raised the matter in Parliament.

He said: “It is difficult because it is a complex issue and the change does not affect that many people but it is still important.”

Mr Quince said the Government was also trying to collate university data to show numbers of students who have left because of serious illness and it can then present a case for how much cash could be available to support them in time for this autumn’s Spending Review.

While this part of the charity’s work continues, its positive work to fundraise never stops.

Without its supporters, including many businesses, the foundation simply couldn’t do what it does and its small band of volunteers, including the trustees, run several events to help.

Mr Cant said: “In an ideal world we would like to raise at least £10,000 a month just to stay ahead of the game and have some reserves.

“Every well run foundation or charity needs to ensure they have reserves so you can sustain the commitment you are making when you stop fundraising.

“We are going to get grant applications for years to come because we cover the whole country and we also do support many sports groups and work with other cancer charities, like CLIC Sargent and Macmillan.”

So while the outcome of its fight for fairer student funding is unknown, what is certain is how proud Rob of his legacy.

If you want to support the Rob George Foundation email david@therobgeorgefoundation

More details on the charity and events can be found at