Tributes paid as CAN founder dies

Helen Taylor Thompson, who also set up the education charity Education Saves Lives, was 96

Helen Taylor Thompson
Helen Taylor Thompson

The founder of the charitable office provider CAN and the charity Education Saves Lives has died at the age of 96. 

Helen Taylor Thompson was instrumental in a number of charitable and social causes throughout her life, starting with her election to the board of London's Mildmay Hospital in 1952. 

She later fought against its closure and became its chair when it reopened in 1988 as the first hospice in Europe for people living with Aids.

In 1995, Thompson’s organisation of The Great Banquet, when 33,000 people in London sat down together for a meal with others from all backgrounds, led to the launch of CAN, which today provides services including office space for charities and social finance. 

She continued her work with the foundation of Education Saves Lives in 2000, which was a response to the growing numbers of people being diagnosed with HIV in Africa and Asia, providing DVDs with important information and education about serious illnesses. 

She was awarded an MBE in 1990, and OBE in 2005, in recognition of her far-reaching charity work.

The BBC also included her in its '100 Women' list of inspiring and influential women from around the world in 2018.

Clive Dove-Dixon, chief executive of CAN, said: “Helen's legacy will live on, not just through her founding of CAN and Education Saves Lives, but also through the many other charitable endeavours she was responsible for over her long career. 

“We are incredibly grateful not only to Helen, but also for her. 

“She will be very sadly missed by all who knew her, but we take some comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on for years to come.” 

Thompson requested that any donations in her memory be sent to Education Saves Lives, which was her passion in her later years. 

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