Friday, 29 October 2010


North east band The Longsands is following in the footsteps of Geordie legends Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail and Kevin Whately by recording their own version of the Blaydon Races in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The popular five piece band from Cramlington will be performing the famous Geordie anthem on the pitch immediately before Sunday’s big derby game and they may already sound familiar to many Newcastle United fans.

Songwriter and guitarist, Ian Barnes, says: “We’re all big Newcastle fans and a while ago were given the opportunity to record our version of the Blaydon Races which is played before the team comes out on a match day.

“We’ve always been really proud hearing The Longsands’ version of the song booming out at St James’ Park and our fans have regularly asked if we would release it as a single.

“The Auf Wiedersehen Pet lads recorded the song for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s A Knight to Remember dvd which was launched this time last year and we all agreed we’d like to do something to help raise money for this great cause too.

“It’s a fantastic north east charity and even though St James’ Park will be divided into black and white and red and white on Sunday we can all agree on the importance of funding research into cancer which will help local people.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in March 2008 and has gone on to raise more than £2.5 million to fight cancer within the region. Its main focus is funding research into more effective cancer treatments and the clinical trials of new cancer drugs.

Bill Corcoran, a local culture and heritage enthusiast, believes the Blaydon Races is much more than just a traditional folk song and is as relevant today as the day it was written.

Bill says: “The Blaydon Races is not just a folk song written in 1862, it’s a living regional anthem, sung on football terraces and overfull bars as well as on concert stages. It’s a happy song sung by confident and enthusiastic people sure of their identity and proud of their home.

“One of the reasons why Tyneside is so special is the unity of its people. Black or white, especially black and white, rich or poor, home or away, the Geordie people have a special spirit characterised by courage and humour which is renowned in the world.

“In a time of globalised homogeneity such regional pride that does not seek to decry others is rare and precious. The song’s lyrics show that, even in 1862, everyone was included in our community – from ‘Coffee Johnny’ to ‘Paddy Fagan’ – and it even highlights ‘the lads and lasses there, all with smiling faces’ enjoying the usual Tyneside party spirit.

“The Toon Army belting out our song about our wonderful city and region shows that wherever we are in the world, we wouldn’t want to be anyone else and especially be from anywhere else. It means celebration in victory or defiance in defeat. It is the most perfect terrace anthem for a proud people and it will be sung for generations yet.”

The Longsands’ Blaydon Races is available from from Sunday and is available to pre-order now The Longsands. The special charity download will include two different versions of the Blaydon Races and also feature a track called Bully from the band’s debut album Meet Me In Spanish City.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation operates within the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust to provide services not yet available within the NHS. Every project it funds benefits patients from across the north east and Cumbria.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


A £20,000 contribution from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is helping further research into leukaemia within the north east.

Funding from the charity to the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group has purchased an Olympus BHX6 fluorescence microscope, which is connected to a highly sophisticated image analysis system.

Professor Christine Harrison says: “This top of the range microscope is an important piece of equipment for us.

“Although our research is focussed on leukaemia, the techniques we’re using, and the use of the microscope, will be of great value to other researchers within the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has raised money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for helping to make this purchase happen.”

The research of the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group involves the study of chromosomes in the bone marrow cells of patients with leukaemia. Abnormalities of these chromosomes indicate the type of leukaemia that each patient has, and more importantly, they provide an indication of the how the patient will respond to treatment.

This feature helps form decisions regarding patient treatment according to their abnormality, which ensures that they are given the most appropriate therapy and increase survival rates.

Lady Elsie says: “It’s a pleasure meeting with Professor Harrison today and learning more about the excellent leukaemia research work being undertaken in Newcastle.

“My husband was keen to support research into leukaemia after the sad death of young Jordan Thompson who played for Newcastle United’s Academy. And we were pleased to contribute £30,000 to the new Teenage Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary for the same reason.

“It was good to meet with Jordan’s mum Andrea today. Like so many people, we both have personal reasons to support research into all forms of cancer and I wish her well with her own fund-raising for the Toma Fund.”

The strength of research into blood cancers in Newcastle was recently recognised by the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, which described the city as a centre of excellence. In 2005 Sir Bobby officially opened the Paul O’Gorman Building at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.

Lady Elsie adds: “My family and I take great pride in the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and never more so than when we can see the benefits it can provide to local cancer experts.

“We’re very appreciative of all the hard work being undertaken to raise money in aid of the charity and were thrilled to pass the £2.5 million mark. I know Bob would be so proud to see his legacy continuing to help other people fighting cancer.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is currently involved in detailed discussions regarding significant investment into ground-breaking research equipment, which will benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria. This is a lengthy process due to the scale of the investment and the charity hopes to be able to announce details in the coming months.