Seven years ago today, Sir Bobby Robson announced he was launching a charity to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
Initially set up to raise £500,000 to equip a cancer drug trials centre, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation continues to go from strength-to-strength, directly benefitting cancer patients from across the North East and Cumbria and playing a role in the international fight against the disease.
Today, the charity is marking its anniversary by announcing a new fundraising total of £8 million.
The wife of the former England and Newcastle United manager, Lady Elsie, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled by this new fundraising total. It’s incredible really. We had no idea how well-supported we would be when we launched in 2008. Bob would be stunned.
“He was so proud of this charity and the work that it funds. And we’re so proud that we are able to continue the work we all began together to help other people facing cancer.
“There’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes work from our medical trustees over the last year. They’ve been working very hard and we’ve agreed to fund some truly ground-breaking new cancer projects.
We’re very grateful to each and every person who has contributed to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in any way.Lady Elsie
“We’re looking forward to sharing the details as soon as possible and I hope our supporters will be as excited by them as we are.
“We’re also going to carry on helping with work in drug research, working with other charities and cancer research teams. Every penny of the money entrusted to us will be very well-used.”
Most recently, the Foundation helped fund a combination of cutting edge radiotherapy technology, which was previously only available in London and is now at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
The stereotactic radiotherapy system uses detailed scans and computerised 4D treatment planning to treat cancer and deliver radiation with tremendous accuracy.
Purchase of the new technology was made possible thanks to a special collaboration between the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and local hospital charities and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation made its largest contribution to date - £850,000 – to help fund it.
Lady Elsie added: “Most of the funds raised or donated continue to be relatively small amounts, but we’ve also had tremendous support from people like Newcastle Building Society who have now given us more than £1 million. I find that simply astonishing.
“We’re very grateful to each and every person who has contributed to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in any way.
“Sadly, too many of us know what a terrible disease cancer is and it’s important we keep doing everything we can to help the patients, the doctors, nurses and scientists - everyone who is working together to try and make things better.
“Bob was always positive about what we could do as a team. He always said, ‘when’ we beat cancer, not ‘if.’ That’s why we carry on, and we will do as long as the support is there.”
In the last year, major fundraising events have included the hugely successful Newcastle Building Society charity-linked savings and ISA accounts and Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction - an online auction in October 2014 organised by volunteer fundraiser Gina Long from Suffolk.
There have also been significant donations in memory of MH17 victims John Alder and Liam Sweeney, as well as an auction of John’s football memorabilia, kindly donated by his family, which was supported by Anderson and Garland Auctioneers and Newcastle United FC.
Ongoing fundraising activities include Graham Onion’s Durham County Cricket Club Benefit Year and support from Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club, who have produced a special Sir Bobby Robson Foundation black and white striped shirt with 100 per cent of the proceeds coming to the charity.
In 2016, key fundraising events include the next phase of Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison’s run around the world run.
To achieve his goal, Mark will need to cover 20,000 miles, over four continents and through 23 countries. It will take him approximately 608 days (1 year and 243 days) to complete.
He has already run from John O’Groats to Land’s End, across America and, most recently, across Australia. The next segment of Run Geordie Run Around the World is the European leg beginning on 1 May in Lisbon and will finish 100 days and 3,580 miles later in Istanbul, Turkey, on 9 August 2016.
Mark is interviewing potential candidates for his support team for the run tonight (March 25) and organising a charity ball this October.
Mark said: “Choosing to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, alongside The Children’s Foundation, was a really important decision for me.
“It gives meaning to every step I take when I run. I like the positivity, the feeling that we’re really pushing back hard against cancer.
“I feel extremely proud to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in memory of my parents who both lost their battle against cancer many years ago. And I’m determined to do the charity proud during my 20,000 mile run around the world.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that the journey is going to be extremely difficult to complete. However, with a lot of support, kindness and generosity from the general public I’m sure that it will be a success.”
To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk or donate by sending a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Charitable Funds Office, Peacock Hall, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP.