Thursday, 30 June 2011


Hello, I’m Tom Chaplin the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s Writer in Residence. Over the following months and years I am going to be writing creatively on behalf of the Foundation – hopefully with patients, fundraisers and staff - to enrich the environment and output of the Foundation and allow those in contact with the Foundation to explore their creativity.

When the idea of a Writer in Residence project, which is funded through public Arts and Council sponsorship, was first discussed I decided that if the project got the green light I would run the Great North Run in aid of the Foundation. Well, the project did get the go ahead, so here I am facing a run that has challenged many more able and determined runners than little old me!

Having been a keen sportsman, a number of operations on a troublesome knee has left me doing less than I would have liked so the run (or walk if the worst comes to the worst!) is going to be a great challenge. My wife has also decided to run with me, so now it’s a real family affair. We’ll be running in memory of all the great people lost to the disease and hope to raise as much money for the Foundation as possible to support the amazing work it does.

Over the next couple of months I will be blogging about my experiences leading up to the run, hopefully getting hints and tips from talented runners and amazing fundraisers on how to enjoy the day and raise lots of money.

And the advice has actually already started coming in. On Thursday 23rd June, I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people as part of the Foundation’s regular Fundraiser’s sessions at Newcastle’s Copthorne Hotel, an old haunt of Sir Bobby himself. I received great inspiration from a range of fundraisers young and old who attended so that the Foundation and Lady Elsie could thank them in person for their efforts. The huge sums donated (and they were huge) will go a long way to supporting the Foundation’s aims and goals. Those fundraisers present were a credit to themselves and their families. Amongst others, those from Longhoughton Girls FC who raised £800 completing a sponsored dribble and young James McCutcheon who ran the Junior Great North Run in memory of his great aunt were of particular encouragement to me. Their determination stood out a mile (no pun intended).

Also in attendance was Paul Robinson, from Yarm, who’s herculean effort meant he made it across the UK’s C2C route from Whitehaven to Hartlepool - all on a 1980’s BMX! The bike was a gift from his late father, and Paul decided the ride would be a fitting tribute to his Dad and great fundraising opportunity. We agreed! He was kind enough to tell me all about the trip, what a challenge it was and how he battled the burning muscles and uncomfortable saddle. Inspiring stuff.

Now... Where are those running shoes?!

If you would like to support my run, your donation would be very gratefully received at:

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


A unique auction and ball in memory of former England football manager Sir Bobby Robson and breast cancer campaigner Sally Balch are being held this October. The event aims to raise a fantastic £250,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The Sir Bobby Breakthrough Auction and Ball will be held 30 years after one of the legendary manager’s greatest achievements, winning the UEFA Cup with Ipswich Town in 1981. The auction will run for two weeks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, from 8-23 October 2011. The ball takes place at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on 20 October.

Sally Balch was a founding member of the Breakthrough Suffolk group and died of breast cancer in 2004. Sir Bobby died of cancer in 2009 following a long fight with the disease.

Gina Long, event founder and chair of Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s West Suffolk group, said: “We all loved Sally and Sir Bobby and so we wanted to hold an event to remember them by. This auction and ball is a spectacular way to raise money for the causes they were so passionate about.

“We have been overwhelmed by support and want to encourage companies and individuals to get involved with our very special Auction and Ball by generously becoming a sponsor or auction prize donor – it really will make the biggest difference in helping create hugely successful events that will do Sally and Sir Bobby proud.”

The event is endorsed and backed by the FA Chairman David Bernstein, the Robson family and Delia Smith, who will be attending the ball, as well as former Ipswich stars, including Mick Mills, Ipswich captain for 10 years during Sir Bobby’s reign as manager.

Mick Mills MBE, now a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, said: “All of the players are delighted to support this wonderful auction and ball in memory of Sir Bobby. We are so pleased to celebrate his life here in Suffolk where he made his name. This event is a great way of reminding people of the way he made Ipswich into one of the best teams in Europe, while raising money for a good cause.”

The auction, organised by the respected auctioneers Lacy Scott & Knight, will have “money can’t buy prizes’. A host of sporting clubs, sporting stars, celebrities and companies will be providing auction prizes with details to be revealed in the run-up to October.

Former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, who is also on the organising committee, said: “This promises to be a wonderful event in memory of a truly wonderful man and an extremely special lady.

“The auction and ball will raise tens of thousands of pounds for two charities that do an awful amount of good work.”

Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Sir Bobby Robson and Sally Balch were two inspirational people and the memory of both has driven this remarkable fundraising effort. Everyone who supports this event can be sure their money will be spent trying to find new cancer treatments to fight this terrible disease. There is much more to be done but with the public’s support we can achieve a future free from the fear of breast cancer.”

Gina is delighted that invited key business leaders and highly regarded individuals, have joined the official committee to deliver the Auction and Ball: Between them they have created a platform to raise significant funds to support the work of Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Members of the committee; Mark Robson (Chair), Gina Long (Founder), David Sheepshanks, Terry Hunt, Laura Hudson, Austin Cornish, Edward Crichton, Adam Clark, Richard Lindsey, Stephen Foster, Harry Berry, Matt Cable, Mick Mills MBE.

For more information on how to donate go to:

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Fantastic BBC 5live radio programme here with memories of Sir Bobby and featuring the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Well worth a listen via BBC iPlayer The Day I Met Sir Bobby RobsonLink

Sunday, 5 June 2011


Orchestra North East is increasing the tempo of preparations for its forthcoming concert at The Sage, Gateshead in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The ambitious amateur orchestra is made up of people from across the region with a wide variety of day jobs ranging from doctors, civil engineers and accountants alongside those who make their living out of music.

Orchestra North East treasurer, Geoff Wright, says: “Our orchestra is made up of people from all walks of life but one thing we all have in common is a passion for music and a commitment to performing at a professional standard.

“We are thrilled to be performing within a world-class venue like The Sage and in aid of such a deserving regional charity. Unfortunately some of our members have been directly affected by cancer and indirectly we all have.

“It’s a pleasure to support a charity which is helping cancer patients in our region and working hard to find better treatments for this awful disease.”

The orchestra will be performing Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No 1, Mozart’s Horn Concerto No 4 and an orchestral symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 in E Minor, which was chosen by the general public as The North East’s Favourite (in a poll supported by The Journal).

Geoff adds: “Rather than dictate the programme for the evening we thought it would be an interesting exercise to find out what our audience would like to hear in advance.

“We’re extremely happy with the result which features a beautiful melody for solo horn. I imagine Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 will be the highlight of the night.

“I have no doubts it will be a wonderful evening and this is a great opportunity to experience the power of feeling delivered by a full symphony orchestra right here in the north east.

“This is particularly poignant given the recent announcement by The Sage that there will be no visiting symphony orchestras in 2012, so I’d recommend joining us to enjoy the experience while you can and help to support a great local charity in the process.”

Orchestra North East is performing at The Sage, Gateshead, on Sunday 12 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £20.00 (£16 concessions, £6 students with ID and children under 16 free with a paying adult) and are available from The Sage box office on 0191 443 4661 or

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Durham’s Inner Wheel Club held its annual Inter Club Meeting at Ramside Hall Hotel this week. It marked the first official civic engagement for the new Mayor of Durham, Councillor Les Thomson and Mayoress Lucille Thomson, who were guests of honour alongside Lady Elsie Robson.

The celebratory lunch was an opportunity for Inner Wheel Clubs from across the region to join the ladies from Durham along with other women’s organisations from the area including Tangent, the Women’s Institute and the Soroptimists.

Lady Robson was pleased to accept a cheque for £1,400 which was raised by the Inner Wheel Club of Durham over the last year for her husband’s cancer charity. A further £375 was raised on the day through a raffle for a beautiful hand-made quilt.

Vice President of Durham’s Inner Wheel Club, Doris Dobson, presented Lady Robson with the cheque on behalf of President Judith Turner who was sadly unable to attend due to bereavement. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was Judith’s chosen charity for the year.

Lady Robson said: “I’m very grateful to the ladies of Durham’s Inner Wheel Club for this wonderful donation.

“They were so hospitable and I was very interested to hear how they keep their charitable fund-raising going throughout the year. They have a fantastic feeling of belonging which is very worthwhile and I appreciate their efforts on our behalf.”

Since its launch in March 2008, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has raised £3.3 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer. The charity funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, which directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria.

Commenting on the Inter Club Meeting, Vice President Doris Dobson, said: “It was a very enjoyable afternoon and we were pleased to have so many ladies join us for our lunch. Our President, Judith Turner, was sadly missing due to bereavement but I think everyone coming together like that would have pleased her more than anything.

“We are proud to support the work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and it was a pleasure to welcome Lady Robson and the new Mayor and Mayoress of Durham on their first civic engagement too.”