In this section you will find out more about us from the initial creation of the Society, its organisational structure to what benefits it brings.

The Silver Star Society’s Aim is:

‘To make things better for Oxfordshire mothers and their families.  To raise money to keep the Unit well equipped, to improve the comfort and amenities for women during their stay at the Silver Star Unit, and to support research into important problems of pregnancy’.

 Thanks to everyone, the Society does a good job in realising all these aims!


The Silver Star Society: How did it begin and grow? Where are we heading? by Professor Chris Redman.

In the beginning …

The Silver Star Unit began in 1970 but it was not until nearly 20 years later that our Society was formed. It began in 1986-87. A group of mothers got to know each other while they were confined to hospital before having their babies and continued their friendship by starting the Silver Star support group, to raise funds for this important department at the John Radcliffe Hospital, which helps mums to be through complicated pregnancies.

Almost at once the identity of the Society emerged: small, active, friendly and punching well above its weight. From the beginning it had three foundations: regular newsletters, and fundraising through a summer Fete and a Christmas party. 

To begin with the society bought equipment for the Silver Star Unit, which now would be taken for granted but was not automatically provided by the NHS in those days; basic monitors, ultrasound scanners and suchlike. The unit pioneered IT systems long before they were considered to be appropriate in general. Hence the PCs themselves were supplied by the society.

In these early days Maggie Philbin, of Tomorrow’s World, became our patron and a regular supporter of our various events.

Getting bigger and more ambitious …

In 1991 came the first big appeal for an ultrasound scanner (£50,000), which succeeded on the basis of a successful sponsored marathon by myself, Professor Redman, (the first of 10 that he undertook on behalf of the society).  This established the tradition that continues, that of a Silver Star team that runs the London Marathon every year.

Supporting research as well …

Many of the problems facing women who attend our unit will not be solved at the bedside but in the laboratory. So an important new direction was established by helping to fund the Silver Star research team. They were the first maternity research group in the world (in 1985) to be equipped with a “flow cytometer” an incredible device that can analyse cells at the rate of 10,000 per second. But after five years this became obsolete and the society completed an appeal for nearly £200,000 for an up-to-the -minute replacement.  This enabled our researchers to continue their amazing research and, what is more, justify, two further replacements of which the most recent is working hard solving problems to this day.

Now and looking to the future ….

In November 2007 the Society funded and took a large part in the design of the two wonderful family rooms on Level 6. The Society also funded the refurbishment of the Level 6 Day Room.

Our patron for many years was Oscar nominated writer & director Armando Iannucci, who in 2012 abseiled off the roof of the John Radcliffe women’s Hospital in support of the sponsored team that now enters regularly for this excellent event which raises much funding for our work.

The basis of what we do has not changed.  We raise money to make care for Oxfordshire mothers better in every possible way. We do not replace NHS funding, but top it up to make the important extras possible.

The future depends on you, our supporters. We are planning for a radical change in the way we operate making better use of such social sites as Facebook and Twitter.

We remain one of the most active fundraising groups in all of the Oxford hospitals.

The first 25 years of the Silver Star Society have been a huge success.

What about the next 25 years?


Silver Star is part of Oxford Hospitals Charity, (registered charity number 1175809) A company limited by guarantee (11052176) Unipart House, Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2PG