Monday, 29 November 2010


When Sir Bobby Robson launched his charity in 2008 it was his heartfelt ambition to help fund world class cancer research and treatment within the north east. Today marks another significant step forward in fulfilling his ambition as the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Newcastle University announce major investment into cancer research equipment, which is the first of its kind in Europe.

Newcastle University and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation have committed to buying a Biomarker Generator, an ultra-compact cyclotron from ABT Molecular Imaging, Inc. (Knoxville, Tennessee, US), which will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases.

Only the second of its type in the world, it will be the first in Europe, and will help in the development of new cancer treatments to save lives.

ABT sells the Biomarker Generator for close to £1,000,000 and its purchase has been made possible thanks to incredible support from fund-raisers and donations to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and it will directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria.

The Biomarker Generator works by creating radioactive tracers which are given to patients who subsequently undergo scans (also known as imaging)to provide information on cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The information collected from imaging radioactive tracers helps doctors to understand where the disease is in each patient, how serious the disease is, and the underlying processes and pathways that are sustaining the illness.

Herbie Newell, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, explained: “This is a piece of equipment which will help us enormously in our fight against cancer. It is a really powerful technology which will allow us to assess which patients are most likely to benefit from particular types of drug or radiation therapy, and whether the treatments are working. It will especially help us with our research into new and better ways of treating cancer.

“As well as being valuable in diagnosing certain cancers, neurological and cardiac diseases, it can also help to show where drugs are going in the body. For individual patients it will help us work out whether drugs are working or if a different approach to treatment might be better."

Announcing investment into the Biomarker Generator marks a proud day for Sir Bobby’s widow, Lady Elsie Robson, and for his family and supporters of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Lady Elsie said: “My husband was whole hearted in everything he set out to do and when he launched this charity he wanted to help fund the very best in terms of cancer research and treatment.

“My family and I are incredibly proud to know that his legacy continues to grow with the funding of this equipment and I know he would be bursting with pride too.

“Bob described this charity as his last and greatest team and that’s what it continues to be.
“Every single penny raised in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation helps in the fight against this terrible disease and I am very grateful for the ongoing efforts of all our wonderful supporters. Each and every one of them is part of this fantastic achievement and with continued support we will find more effective treatments for cancer.”

Newcastle has invested heavily over recent years in the development of imaging facilities for both clinical and research use. The cyclotron builds on support from the Regional Development Agency ONE North East, Cancer Research UK, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences and Medical Research Councils.

The cyclotron will be housed in a newly built ‘specialist environment’ in the School of Chemistry at Newcastle University. The ‘specialist environment’ is a requirement when making agents that will be administered to patients, and the University is funding this aspect of the project. The Head of the School of Chemistry, Professor Mike Green commented: “The purchase of the Biomarker Generator is the last piece in the jigsaw, and when this facility opens in summer 2011 we will have a fully integrated imaging facility in Newcastle.”

“The facility will be run by an extremely talented radiochemist, Dr Mike Carroll.
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.

Friday, 26 November 2010


In December a Newcastle councillor will be taking on the world’s highest mountain in aid of north east cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Dipu Ahad from Elswick is trekking to Everest base camp, which is more than 5,550m above sea level where acute mountain sickness (AMS) poses a serious risk.

Intense preparation for this tough physical challenge is vital and Dipu is undertaking a strenuous diet and fitness regime with advice from Northumbria University’s Sports Science experts.

Not only that, the university is now equipped to acclimatise him for the difficult environmental conditions he will face thanks to a new state-of-the-art environmental chamber which was installed this week.

Dr Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and Laboratory Director in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, explains: “MyPhD student Jamie Tallent and I have been putting Dipu through his paces to get him in peak condition for his trek to Everest Base Camp.

“And we can now help him even further using our new environmental chamber which is the only one of its kind in the North East and is able to simulate heat, cold, humidity and altitude environments.

“We’re thrilled to have it as it makes it possible for us to simulate almost any environment on the earth’s surface here in Newcastle.

“It will give the team an idea about how Dipu will respond to the challenge of ‘thinner air’ and how much time he will need to acclimatise to the dizzy heights of Everest. The harder he finds it now, the more time he will need to invest in his preparation.”

The new environmental chamber at Northumbria University will be used for projects including research into physical and mental response to occupational tasks in challenging environments, acclimatisation and support for teaching so students can experience at first-hand what it is like to conduct simple tasks in physically demanding conditions.

It also offers opportunities for research into medical conditions like respiratory diseases, testing equipment in extreme conditions and will provide the region’s athletes with a facility to acclimatise to heat, cold and altitude prior to competition.

Dipu says: “I’ll be fulfilling a personal ambition when I reach Everest Base Camp. The training is very hard as I have been undertaking a strict and strenuous training and diet regime but I’m very determined and Glyn and his team have been hugely helpful. This time last year my body fat was 31.3 per cent and now I’m down to 17.9 per cent,I know their training advice is definitely working for me.

“I will be taking the more difficult and dangerous route to the base camp via Gokyo Lakes which adds an extra three to four days than the normal trekking route. In December the weather will be colder than the normal peak trekking season – all of which adds to the challenge.

“I’m also committed to raising as much money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation as possible through the trek. It’s an important charity to me personally and I will do anything I can to help fund research into cancer and to help patients in the north east is a privilege.

“Cancer is not a disease which is often openly discussed in the Asian community and I’d like to change that too. There needs to be more awareness with regards to cancer in these communities and that help and advice is readily available.”

Dipu is funding his trek himself, including flights, food and accommodation, and every penny of sponsorship will go directly to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. To sponsor Dipu please visit

Friday, 5 November 2010


Sir Bobby Robson’s family is proud to announce today that Sunderland AFC chairman, Niall Quinn, has agreed to become a Patron of north east cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Niall joins Alan Shearer, Ipswich legend Mick Mills and Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson as official representatives of the charity, which benefits patients from across the whole region.

Sir Bobby was a frequent visitor to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light and often talked of the warm reception he received at the club. After he lost his hard fought battle with cancer last July Sunderland fans sang Sir Bobby’s name at a pre-season friendly against Celtic. It was a very touching expression of respect – particularly given Sir Bobby’s association with the club’s rivals Newcastle United.

Lady Elsie said: “My family and I are very happy that Niall has agreed to become a Patron of the charity. His involvement is greatly appreciated and we know Bob would have backed our decision to ask Niall for help to carry on the fund-raising work.

“Newcastle United was his first love but my husband wanted success for all the north east teams and we’ve always had wonderful support from Sunderland Football Club and its fans.

“When Newcastle were away from home Bob often enjoyed football at the Riverside or the Stadium of Light. He had great respect for Niall, Steve Bruce and everyone else at Sunderland and enjoyed their company very much.

“Some things go beyond football and anyone who has been through the pain of seeing a loved one fighting this terrible disease will know that.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in March 2008 and it 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 anti cancer drugs.

The charity 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.

Talking about his new role as a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Niall said: "I remember the night this Foundation was launched, and today a thousand patients are receiving help from Sir Bobby's efforts. That is incredible.

"The absolute answer was yes when I was asked to become a Patron. In keeping with Sir Bobby's way of being loved everywhere he wanted the places he was revered most to be covered by Patrons.

"Alan, Steve, myself and Mick can't come near what Sir Bobby has done through football and his life, but we are determined to keep the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation moving forward."

Andrew Robson, Sir Bobby’s son, added: “When my dad launched his cancer charity I don’t think he realised quite how successful it would become. The ongoing support we receive from fund-raisers is incredible and very much appreciated.

“We recently passed the £2.5 million mark and every penny is being spent helping people fighting cancer in the north east and Cumbria.

“My mum, my brothers and I are all very committed to continuing the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s important work and we couldn’t do that without the help of our fantastic patrons who also include Mick Mills, Alan Shearer and Steve Gibson.

“I know my father would be very proud and grateful to know that his charity is represented by such well respected football men from Suffolk, Tyneside, Teesside and Wearside.

“We had hoped to make this announcement about Niall earlier in the year but were unable to do so due to the travel situation caused by the volcanic ash clouds.

“We’re very happy to be able to do so now and, on behalf of my family, it gave me enormous pleasure to express our thanks and to welcome Niall to his new role as a Patron of Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”