The Robin Tavistock Award

The Robin Tavistock Award 2023


The Trustees are delighted to announce that the Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists, CATs is the recipient of The Robin Tavistock Award 2023.

This Award is named after Robin Tavistock, the 14th Duke of Bedford, who founded The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia.  It is presented annually to an inspirational person, or group, who have made a significant contribution to the field of aphasia.

Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, CATs is an international collaboration of aphasia researchers.  It aims to improve the quality, effectiveness and reporting of aphasia research, and so maximise the benefits for people living with aphasia.  With close to 300 members the collaboration spans 41 countries and 43 languages. CATs is truly multi-disciplinary, with a membership that includes speech and language therapists, clinical linguists, neurologists, epidemiologists and neuropsychologists.

The achievements of CATs are too numerous to list in full.  Examples include:

  • the adaptation of clinical tests and interventions, so enabling tools to be applied across international settings and in contexts where few resources were previously available;
  • projects that promote international consensus on key research issues, such as how aphasia treatment effects should be measured and how participant details are reported;
  • and initiatives to pool and share research data.

The scale and international heft of CATs has drawn new resources to aphasia research, with several successful funding bids stimulated by the collaboration.  Benefits are felt, also, at the individual level.  Previously isolated researchers can now draw upon the support of the CATs community – and new career researchers gain from mentoring from world leading senior colleagues. CATs has taken aphasia research onto a new level of ambition and achievement, that few would have imagined possible when it was established in 2013.

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia has funded CATs since 2017.  Given this involvement, albeit very much in the background, we sought the views of colleagues in the aphasia field about the special contribution of CATs.  Here is just a selection of their testimonials, which convey why CATs is so deserving of the Robin Tavistock Award:

Professor Emeritus Nina Simmons-Mackie:  CATs has had a huge impact on the international aphasia research community. It has helped move aphasia research away from competing national research “silos” to cooperative global project groups. The leaders have recruited an amazing host of international aphasia researchers who are making significant progress in addressing issues of importance to people living with aphasia around the world.

Carol Dow Richards, the Aphasia Recovery Connection [ARC]:  Collaboration, Optimizing Recovery, and Professionalism are three attributes I think of when I think of CATS…  I am in awe of all that CATs has accomplished….. CATs has made the aphasia world a much better place.

Emeritus Professor Linda Worrall: CATs progresses aphasia research through connecting researchers throughout the world. Early career researchers and aphasia researchers who may have only a few collaborators are mentored and connected through the CATs working groups…

It has been a joy and a privilege to watch CATs grow into the outstanding collaboration it has become.  We can think of no group that deserves this Award more.


The discussion around this year’s Award was lengthy.  Our hesitation was centred around the fact that we have funded this project for over 6 years.

Because of that, we spoke with a number of people regarding the contribution that this group has made and after numerous discussions, we identified two important points that helped us overcome our hesitation:

  • The first is that, if we ruled out from receiving this Award all those whom we have funded, or part funded, then the list of possible recipients would become much smaller.
  • The second point is similar but was even more convincing – why should an organisation, or an individual, who has made a major difference within the aphasia world, be penalised because we, and we are very much in the background, happen to be a funder.

The Robin Tavistock Award will always be for the individual or group, for their work, and because they have made that all important significant contribution that is making a difference to those who live with aphasia, to their families and those who care for them.