Thursday, 29 September 2011
Wendy Taylor, the head of Media at Newcastle United, has given herself a mountain to climb. In fact, she has given herself several. Beginning this Saturday (1 October), Wendy is embarking on a solo 180km trek around the Alps, an extraordinary challenge which she is undertaking to raise vital funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
A keen amateur climber in her rare moments of free time away from running the press office of the club Sir Bobby both supported and managed, Wendy will travel through three countries - France, Italy and Switzerland - climbing a total elevation gain of 28,500ft, close to the height of Mount Everest, during her seven-day adventure.
Setting off from Les Houches, France, Wendy is tackling a more taxing variation of the Tour du Mont Blanc, which circles the Mont Blanc Massif, the highest mountain in the European Union. To make the task even more arduous, she is attempting to complete the trek inside seven days rather than the more traditional 11 or 12 and is doing it on her own.
There will be few creature comforts; no hotels, no gourmet meals, not even a tent. "I'll be carrying a bivvy bag on my back and camping under the stars," says Wendy, who joined Newcastle in the summer of 2010 after a spell in a similar role at Newcastle Airport. "I'll have food for seven days with me: cereal bars, energy gels for lunch, dehydrated survival-style packet meals for dinner.
"It gets dark at around 7.20pm at the moment, so I'll be setting off before sunrise every morning. Being by myself for so long will be one of the hardest tests, so I'm hoping to stay in touch with the outside world through my mobile phone and Twitter. I'll have seven spare batteries for my Blackberry weighing down my backpack!"
While Wendy was raised as a Sheffield Wednesday supporter (her granddad was former Wednesday manager, Eric Taylor), she was always aware of Sir Bobby's contribution to football, in the North East and beyond. When she arrived at St James' Park, she quickly came to appreciate his lingering influence at all levels of the club, as well as the important work carried out in his name by the Foundation.
"Working at Newcastle, it felt right to me to support a charity close to the heart of the club and the people connected to it," Wendy says. "There's a portrait of Sir Bobby in the manager's office at the training ground and there's a natural synergy there.
"I always admired him for his management, his time with England, but I didn't know so much about what he had done here and what he meant to people. I certainly do now. When you speak to fans, to people who worked with him or played for him, they all talk about him in such high terms. You mention his name and people want to sit down and talk about their memories."
Wendy's day-to-day work involves dealing with media enquiries, responding to stories, both positive and negative, handling press conferences, organising player interviews and taking managerial charge of Newcastle's matchday programme, website and nufc.tv. It is a relentless endeavour, magnified by global fascination with the Premier League.
"Sir Bobby seems to be universally missed and universally adored," she adds. "To be able to do something like this to raise money for his Foundation feels like a real privilege as well as a challenge and I'm sure it'll be that which keeps me going."
Since its launch in 2008, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has raised over £3.5 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer.
It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, including the clinical trials of drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Wendy will be providing regular updates on her progress through her Twitter page. You can follow and offer her encouragement at @wendytaylor13 and please contribute to her fundraising efforts at www.justgiving.com/wendynufc.
Monday, 19 September 2011
Jose Mourinho is donating the most prestigious personal trophy of his glittering career to a charity auction in memory of Sir Bobby Robson, his mentor at Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona.
Real Madrid's Portuguese manager, 48, was award Fifa’s Ballon D’Or World Coach of the Year award in 2010, the year he won the Champions’ League with Inter Milan. He beat off competition from World Cup winner Vicente Del Bosque and rivals including Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Sir Alex Ferguson to pick up the award.
Now he is donating the trophy he received to become a lot in Sir Bobby's Breakthrough Auction, which runs online from 8-23 October. The auction, and a charity ball next month in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, will jointly raise funds for the Sir Bobby Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
Mourinho has recognised the part Sir Bobby played in his own football development by giving the wonderful money-can’t-buy prize – to the delight of organisers and the Robson family alike.
Sir Bobby’s son, Mark, says: "The entire family is completely astounded by this generous gift from Mr Mourinho. We are thrilled and so thankful to him. My Dad would have been so proud by the way all the different clubs and football managers around the world are pulling together by contributing such incredible prizes."
The auction has attracted over 100 prizes and is also being supported by HRH the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Auction founder Gina Long adds: "When I started planning the auction, I could only have dreamt that I would get support from such magnificent people and great companies.
"But now that has been turned into reality, it can only help us achieve our goal of raising more than £250,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer."
Other 'money can't by' auction prizes include:
- Join Fabio Capello at an England Senior Men’s training session
- Attend the Professional Footballers’ Association Awards ceremony
- VIP Manchester United tickets donated by Sir Alex Ferguson
- A morning on Newmarket Heath with ten times Champion Trainer Sir Michael Stoute
- A personal tour of Alnwick Castle given by the Duchess of Northumberland
- Tickets to Centre Court at Wimbledon
- Tickets to The Masters snooker final in 2012, with the chance to meet the players
- A personally addressed and signed replica helmet, donated by Lewis Hamilton
- A rare limited edition of Pele’s autobiography, signed by the man himself
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Fund-raisers registered with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to run the Great North Run were invited to an informal get-together at the Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle, last night (Tuesday 13th September).
It was an opportunity for Lady Elsie and representatives of the charity to meet and thank the runners who have been training hard ahead of Sunday. It was also a chance for Mark Allison, also known as Run Geordie Run, to talk about his experiences running across America for charity and to inspire runners in the final days before their half marathon challenge.
One of the runners with a very personal reason to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is Sir Bobby’s youngest son Mark Robson.
This is the fourth year Mark and his partner Kim Jennings have tackled the Great North Run in aid of the charity and getting together with other fund-raisers ahead of the run was a very positive experience for him.
Mark says: “My family and I are very grateful to everyone who is undertaking the Great North Run in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and it was a pleasure to meet just some of the runners.
“No doubt there will be some very accomplished athletes raising funds for us but for some people the 13 miles will be a huge personal challenge. It means a great deal to us that they are taking on that challenge to raise money for Dad’s charity. In many cases I expect, like me, they have their own personal reasons for wanting to support a cancer charity.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his charity in March 2008. He described it as his last and greatest team and was very proud of its achievements.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation helps the experts find more effective ways to treat and diagnose cancer. It funds projects which directly benefit cancer patients including the clinical trials of drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Mark adds: “I’ve done the Great North Run three times now and I’m always struck by the camaraderie and support along the route.
“In many ways it’s like the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It’s a very big team effort and the sheer volume of people taking part adds up to something very special.
“I’d like to wish all the runners the very best of luck and to thank everyone who has sponsored a friend, colleague or family member for taking part. The money raised will be used very carefully helping people fighting cancer and in finding more effective treatments to beat this disease.”
Other Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Great North Runners include a team of doctors, nurses and administrators from the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Freeman Hospital and Tom Chaplin, the charity’s official Writer in Residence.
The runners were inspired by the presence of Mark Allison who recently raised over £100,000 for the Children’s Foundation and St Benedict’s Hospice by running across America in just 100 days.
He spoke to the runners to help motivate them in their final training and gave useful advice about the physical and mental aspects of running long distances.
Mark says: “It was a huge honour to be asked to talk to the Great North Runners raising funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“It was a pleasure to chat with them and to draw upon my recent experiences running 3,100 miles across the USA. I hope I have helped inspire them as they take on their own running challenge on Sunday.
"Both of my parents lost their battle against cancer. I know only too well just how valuable the treatment and research undertaken by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is in the ongoing fight that claims the lives of so many of our loved ones.
"I know from experience how motivating it can be running to raise funds for causes which mean a lot personally. I hope everyone doing the Great North Run for charity achieves their goals and I wish them all the very best of luck."
Friday, 9 September 2011
Tickets are selling fast to watch Kevin Keegan's 'Entertainers' side take on Liverpool at the home of the Newcastle Falcons, Kingston Park on Sunday 9 October.
The game will benefit five charities, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, and will feature one of the charity's Patrons - Alan Shearer - as well as a host of well known players.
Liz Luff from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation says: “Sir Bobby was thrilled when his Italia 90 World Cup squad reunited to play Germany in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“I expect he would be equally enthusiastic about seeing Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers line up in black and white again too. The game is raising money for five wonderful charities and promises to be a fantastic night.
“We’re grateful to everyone involved in its organisation and particularly to Alan Shearer who will once again be wearing the iconic number 9 shirt. He does a wonderful job as a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and his commitment is much appreciated by Lady Elsie and Sir Bobby’s family.”
All ticket news, and information about the charity dinner on Saturday 8th October, can be found here www.theentertainersreunited.co.uk