Charity History

Above & Beyond began life as The Special Trustees on 1st April 1974. The charity was set up to hold the charitable funds of what was then called the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust (which later became University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust)

In 1735 the Bristol Royal Infirmary was the very first charitable hospital to be established in England outside London. This long tradition of charitable support for the alleviation of sickness was identified as the duty of the Special Trustees to maintain.

Its aim was to “provide support to the United Healthcare Trust and to the University of Bristol in those areas relating to medicine and research and in improving conditions for staff and patients.”

Our first chairman was Mr Charles N Clarke and our offices were based at Bristol & Weston Health Authority

In a 1999 report on Twenty five years of Service and Support” by the Special Trustees, the then Chairman of the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust Phil Gregory explained the difference that the charity’s support had made:-

“Each year, the Trust receives substantial funds which enable us to greatly improve the environment for patients and their families, ensuring that their experience is as comfortable and least stressful as possible.”

The charity’s name was changed to Above & Beyond in 2005 and became more pro-active in fundraising and raising awareness of its work.  

Here are some of our highlights:


We fund research into Hypertension studies into the effect of anaesthetic

New accommodation is provided for hospital staff at Yatton and St Michael’s Hill

A joint venture with the WRVS means a new buffet bar opens in the BRI

A fundraising lottery is launched in association with the 1980 Grand National – legendary winner Red Rum visits Bristol to help promote it.

A library service is developed for patients and staff

The old Bristol Eye hospital is demolished to make way for a new modern building

The Samaritan Fund is set up to help those in financial difficulties – bus fares, taxis and basic requirements are met for those attending hospital

1984 -1994   

Staff lounges are introduced at the BRI.

A CT Scanner is provided for the BRI.

We sponsor the Bristol Illuminated Carnival.

The BRI refurbished entrance is opened in 1992

Improved facilities are provided for the department of cardiology and cardiac surgery helping them to treat more patients.

Charity support makes it possible for the current Eye Hospital to opens its doors in 1986

The charity moves to the newly restored Abbot’s House. The original foundations are said to have their origins in the 17c and it’s thought to have been a resting place for pilgrims on their way from Glastonbury to Canterbury.

1994 -2004   

Bristol Workways is set up by the charity to provide employment and training opportunities for people recovering from long periods of treatment

The charity provides initial funding and support for the fundraising appeal set up to  develop the region’s biggest children’s hospital.

The appeal would later be called The Grand Appeal and is still raising funds for the children’s hospital today.

The charity provides £750,000 towards the upgrading and refurbishment of the central delivery suite at St Michaels Hospital.

The £1m charity funded Bristol Medical Simulation Centre is opened for the training of hospital staff. The unit is a world leader in its field.

£900,000 funds a cardiac catheter machine for the BRI to help save more lives of critically ill heart patients.

Televisions for patients on wards are provided to help alleviate boredom and stress for patients experiencing long stays in hospitals

Transport incubators mean critically ill babies can be safely transported to world class facilities here in Bristol.

2001 – The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children opens.

A touch screen information system is introduced at the BHOC for patients and visitors

2002 sees the creation of the now famous balloon mural in the BRI link corridor.

We fund the development of laboratories at the BHOC to help research and treatments into cancer.

Funding of innovative diagnostic system at Bristol Eye Hospital allows patients to be seen miles away via a telecoms system.

We support research into diabetes, leukaemia in children and disorders of the eye.

Ultrasound scanner and MEA treatments are provided at Michaels. MEA reduces the number of women requiring hysterectomies.

2005 - 2013  

In 2005 we became Above & Beyond and launched our first major fundraising appeal to raise £150,000 to establish a one stop gynaecology clinic at St Michaels.

Our first fundraising events included a zip-wire at the Avon Gorge and a gala dinner at the SS Great Britain.

£228,000 funds equipment for a new combined surgical and medical day unit.

The Heart of Bristol Appeal is launched in 2006 to raise £800,000 for a new Bristol Heart Institute.

Charity funded research study into the quality of patient lives following treatment for breast cancer challenges and influences best practice in the UK.

3 sophisticated retinal imaging systems are funded at Bristol Eye Hospital to detect defects in new born babies.

2009 – The award winning Bristol Heart Institute opens

A generous legacy funds major refurbishment and development of a new research facility and paediatric unit at Bristol Eye Hospital in 2010.

The General Hospital closes in 2012 and the South Bristol Community Hospital opens with £500,000 of funding from the charity.

2013 – We launch our biggest fundraising appeal in our 40 year history – the £6m Golden Gift Appeal.

In 2014 we are chosen as the official charity for the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta for 2014 and 2015.


Annual reports

Read more about the charity in our Annual Reports