About 2019-08-20T12:07:10+00:00

Funding holidays for disabled people

CS Disabled Holidays: Who we are
The Founding Of A National Charity

CS Disabled Holidays (formerly The Cavendish Spencer Trust) is a charity set up in 2014 by the union of two charities, Refresh and the Robin Cavendish Memorial Fund. These two charities shared similar aims in helping to provide holidays and respite breaks for people with severe disability due to neurological or neuromuscular disorders.

CS Disabled Holidays is named after Robin Cavendish and Geoffrey Spencer, two great friends, who together pioneered the cause of holidays for the severely disabled. Robin Cavendish, who died in 1992, was a severely disabled and respirator-dependant polio sufferer, who pushed constantly at the constraints of his disability. Geoffrey Spencer was an inspirational doctor who cared for disabled and respirator-dependent people at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. In 1970 they founded Refresh, a charity that built a holiday home for the severely disabled, Netley Waterside House, on Southampton Water. Following the sale of Refresh’s ownership in Netley Waterside House, these proceeds were made available to fund individual holidays for the disabled, in combination with funds from the Robin Cavendish Memorial Fund. The merging of these two charities created the Cavendish Spencer Trust now CS Disabled Holidays, which continue to pursue the vision of the founders.

Our charitable mission

To provide support to people living with long term disabilities by offering financial assistance through grants which enable access to suitable respite care or a holiday.

CS Disabled Holidays Charity Trustees

  • Mark Baring (Company Treasurer)
  • Henry Hood (Hon. Company Secretary)
  • Irene Waters
  • Mark Fane
  • Diana Cavendish
  • Jonathan Cavendish
  • Lesley Cavendish
  • Charlotte Duthie


  • Joanna Lees

Our founders

Robin Cavendish

Robin Cavendish was educated at Winchester College, and then served for seven years in the 60th Rifles.  Aged 28, he contracted polio in Kenya in 1958 and was paralysed from the neck down, dependant on a mechanical respirator to breathe.  Robin was given three months to live, but survived for 36 years. He and his wife Diana steadily improved the quality of their life, first by leaving hospital in 1961 and setting up home near Oxford.

With their friend, Professor Teddy Hall, they developed a wheelchair with a built-in respirator that gave Robin freedom to travel.  He greatly improved the quality of life for other severely disabled people, by the example of his own pioneering life and by his advocacy of their cause.  With Dr Geoffrey Spencer he co-founded the charity Refresh in 1970 to raise money for Netley Waterside House, a holiday complex that provided vacation facilities for the severely disabled and their families.  He died in 1992.

Geoffrey Spencer

Geoffrey Spencer qualified in medicine in 1954 and was a Consultant at St Thomas’s Hospital from 1965-1995. He founded the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital and later started the Phipps Respiratory Unit at the South Western Hospital, which later became the Lane Fox Unit at St Thomas’s. While the Phipps Unit grew out of the needs of polio patients, it developed to embrace the treatment of other mainly neurological conditions requiring long-term mechanical ventilation. This included many patients who failed to recover fully from intensive care and who, though they continued to need machines to breath, were enabled to speak, to eat and to live at home.

In the 1970s he joined forces with Robin Cavendish to found Refresh, as charity dedicated to providing holidays for severely disabled people, including those who required mechanical ventilation, a need that was not met at the time.

For the first twenty years of retirement, Geoffrey managed Refresh.

He was awarded the OBE for services to disabled people, in 1981. He was married and had two children and four grandchildren and lived in Hampshire until his death on the 18th September 2018.