About Us

We are the Thalidomide Trust

Welcome to the Thalidomide Trust, a registered charity, supporting a unique community of people who are living with disabilities as a result of their mothers taking the drug, thalidomide during the first three months of pregnancy.

Primarily marketed under the brand name Distaval, thalidomide was licenced in the UK for less than four years before it was withdrawn, so our beneficiaries are all a similar age and experience similar issues and challenges – but they are definitely not all the same.

Group of staff members in two rows in front of a fireplace

The history bit

Child playing

The Thalidomide Trust was set up in 1973 as a discretionary Trust, as part of the £20 million legal settlement between Distillers Company Ltd and 429 children with thalidomide-related disabilities. Back then, we were called the Thalidomide Children’s Trust.

Since then, we have accepted 543 people as beneficiaries. Sadly, 107 have passed away and today we’re supporting the 436 who remain.

In 1997 Diageo (formed by a merger between Grand Metropolitan and Guinness, who took over Distillers in 1990) inherited the thalidomide legacy and has made a long term financial commitment to support the Thalidomide Trust and our beneficiaries for the rest of their lives.

How we work

Our beneficiaries are at the heart of everything we do and they inform and shape the Trust’s activities.

beneficiaries and thalidomide trust staff at a local event in brighton

beneficiaries at a thalidomide trust open day event to meet others and share information


beneficiaries at a thalidomide trust fit for the future event focusing on keeping active

One of the key ways they do this is through our National Advisory Council (NAC) - a group of 12 beneficiaries, elected by the whole beneficiary community - who provide ongoing advice to the staff and Trustees on a wide range of issues.

Our work is overseen by a Board of 10 highly skilled Trustees who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the charity.

What we do

The Thalidomide Trust administers two funds set up to support people affected by thalidomide:

Annual compensation payments– funded by Diageo
Health Grants– funded by the four UK Health & Social Care Departments

But we don’t just distribute grants, we do so much more:

For more detail on the Trust's activities you can read the quarterly Directors' Updates.

We work hard to make a tangible difference to the lives of our beneficiaries

This video was made with the support of Diageo to highlight the important work at the Trust and the difference it makes to the lives of our beneficiaries.