Tuesday, 26 July 2011


The mutual promise made between Sir Bobby Robson and his Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given to do something together in the fight against cancer is now being fulfilled.

During Sir Bobby’s final battle with the disease he was very active raising funds and awareness of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay, who recently signed for Aston Villa FC, is equally passionate about raising funds to help improve cancer treatment and is a Patron of Macmillan Cancer Support.

When the two men last met they discussed a joint project which sadly could not be achieved during Sir Bobby’s lifetime. With the launch of a new cancer facility jointly funded by the two charities and provided by the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust that promise has now been realised.

Launched today (Tuesday 26th July), the new quiet area will benefit visitors to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, who come from across the region for specialist treatment.

Tucked away in a peaceful corner of the hospital, it is now a comfortable space for visitors and patients to relax between appointments with books and a television. It is also stocked with useful information about cancer.

Lady Elsie Robson officially opened the quiet area alongside Maureen Rutter, Macmillan Cancer Support director, and Sir Leonard Fenwick, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive.

Lady Elsie says: “I’m very proud to see this wonderful new facility open. As someone who spent a great deal of time in various hospitals while my husband received treatment I can appreciate the value of quiet space such as this.

“Bob would be very proud to be working together with Shay and Macmillan to fund this new facility. I know Shay is disappointed not to be here but my husband would have understood his pre-season football commitments mean he has to be elsewhere.

“I hope the new quiet area provides a relaxing space for visitors to the hospital for many years to come.”

Tragically, Shay lost his mum Agnes to cancer when he was just five-years-old and he still has memories of the seemingly endless hospital stays.

Shay says: “It’s great to see Macmillan Cancer Support using the money raised from Fashion Kicks 2008 towards this fantastic, much needed facility.

“It is even more special for me because it has been made possible through collaboration with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“Sir Bobby was not just a great gaffer, but also a great friend. This new facility will operate just like Sir Bobby would want it to with the ‘door always open and everybody welcome to come in.’

“My wife Jane and I are really disappointed at not being able to attend the official opening due to work commitments. We hope this new quiet area will become a well-used place to relax within this busy hospital environment as well as providing visitors with useful information about cancer.”

Fashion Kicks is an annual charity fashion show which features Shay and his football team mates strutting their stuff alongside professional models. It began on Tyneside in 2004 and has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help fight cancer.

The new quiet area the Northern Centre for Cancer Care will potentially benefit tens of thousands of patients and visitors. Over 300 cancer patients visit the hospital every day for radiotherapy treatment alone.

Kevin Hayes, Macmillan Information and Support Service manager at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, says: "I’m very grateful that Macmillan, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Shay felt that this project was worthy of their support.

“Undoubtedly without it we would have been unable to make an idea into a reality. Thanks to their help we have been able to provide a comfortable, welcoming and relaxing area for our patients and visitors which I have no doubt will be well used and popular.”