Bobbie Caplin: Leeds fundraiser to the stars dies at 85

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BOBBIE Caplin, the Leeds businessman and famously successful Variety Club fundraiser, has died, a few days after celebrating his 85th birthday.

Numbering royalty among many influential friends, he had helped to raise millions for the showbusiness-oriented organisation that supports disadvantaged children.

David Niven, Cary Grant and Barbara Taylor-Bradford were among the luminaries who were drafted in by Mr Caplin as guest speakers at events he organised for the charity.

In the early 1960s, he and other businessman helped to bring Leeds United back from the brink of bankruptcy by agreeing to pay £100 to watch games from a club room in the new West Stand, in what is considered one of the first cases of corporate sponsorship in football.

A fount of showbusiness information, he retold in a TV documentary having been with Eric Morecambe at the Batley Variety Club in 1968 on the night he suffered his heart attack, en route back to his hotel in Leeds.

A renowned ladies’ man, it was not uncommon to see him arrive at the Variety Club Business Awards in the city with the current Miss World on his arm, and even in poor health at his 85th birthday, he was surrounded by a flock of female admirers.

Charlotte Farrington, Variety’s regional director, said: “He was never blessed with a family of his own so he made it his life’s work to change the lives of countless underprivileged children both here in the UK, through Variety, and in Israel.

“I have in my loft the most amazing pictures from the events Bobbie organised over the years which include a whole line up of stars. It was absolute glitz and glamour.”

Mr Caplin was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to charity, and is survived by his sister, Maryse Whyman, and brother, David.