Friday, 19 February 2010


The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre is celebrating its first anniversary this week – a birthday it shares with the man who was so instrumental in raising the money required to equip it.

Sir Bobby Robson would have been 77-years-old this week (18th Feb) and a year ago he officially opened the cancer drugs trials centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Over the past year, the Centre has treated 560 patients from Cumbria, Northumberland, Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside and County Durham. It helps ensure people in the north east have early access to treatments for cancer, which are often so new that they are not yet available through the NHS.

Professor Ruth Plummer, director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, says: “Opening this Centre a year ago has made a huge difference to the lives of people living with cancer in the north east.

“Patients here have tried standard cancer treatments which they have found are no longer effective and they’re prepared to try something new.

“It’s a wonderfully warm and positive place to work and I count myself very lucky to be part of the team here.”

Sir Bobby launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation after request for help from Professor Plummer.

She asked for help raising £500,000 to equip the cancer drugs trials unit and amazingly that initial target was reached in just seven weeks.

Professor Plummer adds: “It was an incredible occasion when we officially opened the Centre last year. We all sang happy birthday to Sir Bobby even though we had some very high profile guests including England manager Fabio Capello!

“Sadly Sir Bobby is not here to celebrate with us today. We couldn’t have achieved all we have for cancer patients in the north east without him. He’s a great miss and we’re very grateful for the incredible legacy he has left us.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre treats patients on clinical trials of new cancer drugs. These include early trials of drugs which are just starting to be used in people as well as those which are further on in development and being compared to standard treatments for effectiveness.

This means cancer patients from across the region can choose to participate in trials and have an opportunity to try new treatments as they emerge.

Thanks to ongoing support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has now raised over £2.2 million to fight cancer in the north east.

In addition to equipping the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, the charity has funded a specialist research nurse and doctor and enhanced a children’s waiting area at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

It also recently contributed £30,000 to the new Teenage Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and will be making a very significant investment into cancer research equipment early this year.

The charity operates within the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust and a wider cancer research network to provide services not currently funded by the NHS.

Lady Elsie says: “My husband was very proud that this Centre carried his name. He put so much into fund-raising for his Foundation and I think he enjoyed managing a team again.

“It certainly wasn’t easy for him given his own fight against cancer at that time, but he was determined to do what he could to help other cancer patients in the north east.

“My three sons and I are very committed to continuing fund-raising in Bobby’s name. We’re lucky to have the help of wonderful patrons like Alan Shearer and Steve Gibson and the football clubs in the north east and in Ipswich are all being very supportive of our efforts.

“Bobby said though that it was the man in the street who really made the difference. He was always so touched when strangers at the match would give him a £10 note to put in the Foundation with no thoughts of thanks or recognition.

“I’m very grateful to everyone who has contributed to my husband’s charity by fund-raising or donating money. With continued support we’ll keep going to help all those people who sadly have to go through the hard fight against cancer like Bobby did.

“Every day experts like Ruth move us closer to more effective treatments and one day we’ll beat this terrible disease.”