Our Founder – Helen Taylor Thompson OBE

Helen Taylor Thompson OBE
Helen Taylor Thompson at an event hosted by the Cobra Foundation to mark World AIDS Day, 2006.

Helen’s career began in Churchill’s Secret Operations Executive.

In 1952, she was elected to the board of the Mildmay Mission Hospital in 1952 and afterwards sat on a number of Government NHS committees.
She later fought the closure of the Mildmay hospital and became its chair when it reopened as the first hospice in Europe for people living with AIDS in 1988.

In 1995 Helen worked with Adele Blakebrough and Lord Andrew Mawson to organise the Great Banquet – which saw 33,000 people in London sit down with people from every background to a meal. This event saw the beginnings of CAN, a network of social entrepreneurs who shared a commitment to tackle social problems through business.
Helen was asked by the Ugandan Government to start a Mildmay Centre in Kampala Uganda which she did, and following visits to Uganda and Kenya, Helen she determined to try and help prevent AIDS using education through modern technology.

In 2000, “Education Saves Lives”, originally known as “Thare Machi Education”, began and Helen was chair of the organisation up until later in life.
The charity was officially launched in 2003 at 10 Downing Street with the support of Patron Cherie Blair.

Having been made an OBE in 2005, she continued her involvement with CAN, Mildmay and Education Saves Lives.

The BBC included her in their “100 women” list of inspiring and influential women from around the world in 2018, and in 2019 she was awarded MD (Hon) OBE from the University of Buckingham for her Charitable work particularly in the field of medicine.

Helen passed away on Sunday September 6th, 2020, shortly after her 96th birthday.


Helen is of course very much missed – with many messages of condolence sent for publication on our website, from all over the world.

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