Friday, 23 December 2011


By Tom Chaplin, Writer in Residence

I'll be honest - I'd never seen or even heard of a Biomarker Generator or an ultra compact cyclotron as it is sometimes known, and I certainly didn't know how they work! I didn't know its complex radioactive shield weighed a colossal nine tonnes and I wasn't aware that buying and installing one would cost you the best part of £1.2m.

But this Christmas the Foundation are getting ready to unwrap a pretty special Christmas present to itself and its partners working in cancer care in the North East and Cumbria. This piece of truly cutting edge, specialist equipment will benefit many fighting cancer and amazingly is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe.

With its largest single investment to date the Foundation was able to contribute £625,000 to the purchase of the machine with a further, equally large contribution coming from Newcastle University.

The Foundation's contribution was only possible as a result of the hard work, generosity, passion and courage of patients, their families, fundraisers and supporters and it is to you that we would like to say thank you and wish you a very special, merry Christmas.

Sir Bobby's family and everyone connected to the Foundation is and always has been moved by the lengths fundraisers young and old are prepared to go to: from cake sales to Charity Balls, Great North runners to fancy dress days, you do a wonderful job and make us all so proud. Please, keep doing what you are doing - it is truly remarkable, incredibly worthwhile and very very much appreciated.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Thursday, 22 December 2011


The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation received a very generous Christmas present this week when volunteer fund-raiser Gina Long presented a cheque for £102,112, bringing the total raised for the cancer charity to over £3.9 million.

Gina was the driving force behind Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction, the hugely successful online auction and charity ball organised jointly in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

She travelled from her home in Suffolk to the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne to officially present Lady Elsie Robson with the money raised.

Accompanied by her husband Andrew, Adam Clark and Clare Morley, who were part of the team of volunteers that delivered Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction, presenting the cheque was a moving occasion for Gina who organised the auction in memory of Sir Bobby and breast cancer campaigner Sally Balch.

She says: “Thankfully Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction became a massive success with support from all over the world.

“That’s because my dear friends Sir Bobby and Sally, who I was so privileged to have enjoyed special times with over many years, were both extraordinary people. They both lived their lives inspiring those around them and certainly made the world a better place.

“Along with thanking the brilliant auction committee, I want to thank the donors of the magnificent prizes, the bidders and all our incredible sponsors who helped make this event such an amazing success.

“We are looking forward to having another Sir Bobby’s Auction and Ball in October 2013 and we hope it will be even bigger than the first!”

Over £50,000 was raised at Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Ball, which was held in Bury St Edmunds in October and attended by Lady Elsie and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Patrons Mick Mills and Delia Smith.

All other funds were raised through the online auction which featured 188 incredible lots including television, driving and sporting experiences, sports memorabilia, luxury treats and holidays. It was supported by all of Sir Bobby’s former teams, all the Premier League clubs, Celtic, Rangers and representatives from the world of rugby, horse racing, snooker, tennis, cricket and more.

Gary Lineker, Ant and Dec, Katherine Jenkins, Graeme Swann, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Denise Welch, Andre Villas-Boas, Harry Redknapp and Fabio Capello are just some of the high profile names who donated very special prizes and helped make the auction such a success.

The star lot was Jose Mourinho`s `FIFA Ballon D`Or` World Coach of the Year Award trophy, which raised a staggering £26,000.

Other prizes included:

• FC Barcelona experience with personal presentation by Josep `Pep` Guardiola
• David Beckham signed shirt and ball
• Middlesbrough FC, Newcastle United FC and Sunderland AFC VIP match day experiences
• Watching an England training session with Fabio Capello and signed shirt presentation
• Silver replica of the cup ‘Taca de Portugal’, won by FC Porto under management of Sir Bobby
• Two tickets to the final of Britain`s Got Talent 2012
• Tickets to Katherine Jenkins Daydream tour and a meet and greet after the show
• Behind the scenes tour of the BBC Match of the Day studios with Gary Lineker
• Ipswich Town FC experience playing on the Portman Road turf
• A Loose Women ‘experience’ as guests of Denise Welch

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie in March 2008 to help find more effective treatments for cancer including the clinical trials of new drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Over 1,000 patients have been treated on clinical trials since the Sir Bobby Centre opened in February 2009 and an additional 1,000 patients have been enrolled in other research studies, studying the biology and genetics of cancer to help develop and improve treatments.

Last week (13th December) the charity announced delivery of a cutting-edge piece of cancer treatment and research equipment purchased through a record £625,000 contribution from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The ultra-compact ABT Molecular Imaging Biomarker Generator is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe and will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

It is being installed within Newcastle University, which has invested a further £600,000, to create a specialist environment in the School of Chemistry to house the new equipment.

Lady Elsie says: “This has been a very positive year for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and I hope everyone who has helped out in any way shares my pride at our achievements together.

“My family and I greatly appreciate the support we continue to receive and getting together with Gina and the team behind Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction is a wonderful way to round off 2011.

“They have worked so hard, and on a voluntary basis, to help us raise money and I’m extremely grateful to them all. To have raised over £200,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer is an absolutely magnificent achievement.”

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


The countdown has begun to Yorkshire’s annual charity Farmhouse Big Breakfast in the New Year.

Hosting the three-day fund-raiser in 2012 are John and Mary Pearson, who run award-winning Lovesome Hill Farm B&B, Northallerton, with help from fellow members of Herriot Farm Stay Group. Farm Stay UK is Britain’s biggest network of farm-based accommodation providers.

Big Breakfast will return on January 24 to 26, with morning and afternoon sittings catering for up to 150 Big Breakfast guests.

Three charities will benefit from each day’s proceeds - the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the Farm Crisis Network, which supports problem-hit farming people and families, and Northallerton-based Herriot Hospice Homecare, which serves patients with life limiting illness throughout Hambleton and Richmondshire.

Over the years, Yorkshire Farm Stay members have hosted and raised thousands of pounds for charity through the annual Big Breakfast beano. Once again, hearty Yorkshire farmhouse breakfasts will be served up at Lovesome Hill Farm, with all food sourced on the doorstep in support of local suppliers.

Local businesses and food suppliers have already offered to support the event through sponsorship and product donations. They include Barclays Bank, Darlington, Lloyds TSB Agriculture, Cummins Young Accountants, Thirsk, fellow Farm Stay member Crakehall Water Mill, Stamfrey Farm, Northallerton, Acorn Dairy, Archdeacon Newton, Spring House Farm Shop, Scruton, JM & S Greengrocers, Northallerton, Beavers Butchers, Masham, Yorkshire Dales Meat Co, Patrick Brompton, and Shortridge in Topcliffe.

Big Breakfast sittings on all three days will be held from 10.00-11.30am and 1.00-2.30pm. Tickets, priced at £15, are available from Mary Pearson on 01609 772311, e-mail

“The 2012 event is already creating a great deal of advance interest. We are now open for Big Breakfast bookings, while other offers of sponsorship and food donations will also be welcome,” said Mrs Pearson.

Lovesome Hill, which received a ‘Flavours of Hambleton’ accolade in the 2007 Breakfast of the Year Awards, is a mixed beef and sheep farm, rearing Aberdeen Angus beef cattle, along with Mule and Masham sheep, and Hampshire-cross pigs on behalf of a neighbouring farmer.

“Some of their bacon will be on the Big Breakfast menu, so you can’t get more local than that!” added Mrs Pearson.

Monday, 19 December 2011


A North East businessman’s charity night involving family and friends has raised over £4,500 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Chris Lines, a director of PR and marketing agency Press Ahead, arranged the event at Sedgefield Racecourse in memory of his mother Margaret Lines, who died of cancer two years ago.

Over 130 people turned up to the fundraiser, where they were entertained by leading North East band the Emerald Thieves. Hundreds more people bought tickets for a special raffle that was linked to the event, with a line up of sporting prizes donated by David Beckham, Andy Murray, Steve Cram, Sir Chris Bonington, Newcastle Racecourse, Durham County Cricket Club, Berghaus, Sunderland AFC, Pulman Volkswagen and many others.

All proceeds from ticket sales for the event and raffle have been donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. On Friday, Chris, accompanied by his 92-year-old grandmother Lillian Smith, his father Peter Lines and sister Kate English, presented a cheque to Lady Elsie Robson.

During the last two years, Chris and Kate have committed themselves to raising money for the charity. Following two Great North Runs, the recent event and raffle were the latest initiatives in an ongoing fundraising effort. Margaret Lines was cared for at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Freeman Hospital, which is also the home of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.

Lady Elsie says: "It was a great pleasure to meet Margaret’s family. They’re doing a wonderful job of raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and I’m very grateful for their support. I have no doubt Margaret would be very proud of their efforts in helping other people fighting cancer."

Chris adds: “I was delighted with the outcome of my event and raffle and am really grateful for the support I received from family, friends and colleagues. In the greater scheme of things, £4,500 might not seem to be a huge amount, but it’s a bigger total than I expected and I know that it will be put to excellent use by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. The money that we raised will play its role in helping to improve the early detection and treatment of cancer – knowing that fact makes all of the hard work involved feel more than worthwhile.”

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


A cutting-edge piece of cancer treatment and research equipment purchased through a record £625,000 contribution from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is being installed this week in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The ultra-compact ABT Molecular Imaging Biomarker Generator is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe and will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

It is being installed within Newcastle University, which has invested a further £600,000, to create a ‘specialist environment’ in the School of Chemistry to house the new equipment.

The Biomarker Generator will play a significant role in the development of new cancer treatments and its delivery is a very proud day for everyone involved with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Lady Elsie says: “It’s wonderful to see this piece of equipment actually becoming a reality and being prepared for use.

“We rely on the cancer expertise of our medical trustees who are always looking for promising new treatments which could make a real difference to people currently fighting cancer as well as helping with research into the disease. And when they explained the benefits of the Biomarker Generator to my family and I we shared their enthusiasm.

“It’s a very significant investment for our charity, the largest we’ve made so far, and something we simply couldn’t have done without the incredible support we receive.

"It's truly humbling when you think about the many thousands of donations and fund-raising events which have gone into making this happen.

“We’re extremely grateful to every fund-raiser and every single person who makes a donation and will continue to ensure the money is invested in the very best possible way.

“I’m very proud that the charity which my husband launched is continuing to make such a difference for other people fighting cancer. He would share my fervent hope that this equipment helps to save lives.”

The Biomarker Generator creates radioactive tracers which are given to patients who then undergo scans, which is also known as imaging. The information collected through this imaging helps doctors understand where the disease is in each patient, how serious the disease is, and the underlying processes and pathways that are sustaining the illness. The tracers can also be used to see whether a new drug has penetrated a tumour and whether a new treatment is damaging the tumour cells and stopping them growing.

Herbie Newell, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at the Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, says: “The Biomarker Generator is cutting-edge technology that will allow us to make sure that we deliver the best possible care for each patient we treat, whilst learning at the same time as much as possible about our new drugs.”

Tom Welch, President and CEO of ABT Molecular Imaging, Inc., producer of the Biomarker Generator, says: “ABT is honoured to be associated with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and is excited to be a collaborative partner of Newcastle University in their efforts to advance cancer research.”

Funding for the Biomarker Generator was made possible thanks to fantastic ongoing support for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the cancer charity Sir Bobby Robson launched in 2008.

It is continuing to fulfil Sir Bobby’s ambition to help find more effective treatments for cancer and to focus on new treatments which directly benefit people currently fighting the disease as well playing an important role in wider research into the disease.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Congratulations and thanks to Lee Nelson of Wearside Interiors Ltd for his winning bid of £600 to enjoy Martin O’Neill’s managerial debut at the Stadium of Light in a VIP box.

Lee will be taking his family to the Sunderland AFC v Blackburn Rovers game on Sunday as a festive treat.

Sunderland kindly donated the Stadium of Light VIP experience for this weekend’s game to Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction, the online auction which recently raised over £200,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

However, due to unforeseen circumstances the original winner of the lot was unable to attend the game so it was auctioned again at very short notice.

The VIP match experience includes a private box and balcony for 10 people for Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers a buffet meal served in the box before kick-off, use of the Magic Moments Bar pre and post match (drinks not included), a match day programme per person and two car park passes for the fixture.

Thanks again to Lee and to Sunderland AFC for their generosity.

Since Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the charity 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.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Ahead of Gary Speed’s private funeral service on Friday, Louise Speed has asked for any donations made in his memory to come to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation or the John Hartson Foundation – two cancer charities which Gary strongly supported.

Last year Gary took on a new challenge and raised over £7,500 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation by running the London Marathon. He also attended the Foundation’s golf day in April at Rockliffe Hall, Darlington.

Lady Elsie Robson commented: “I’m extremely touched by the request for donations in Gary’s memory to come to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation or John Hartson Foundation.

“To be thinking about other people like that at such a difficult time is incredible and I understand Louise believes it’s what Gary would have wanted.

“I’m very grateful and my thoughts will very much be with Gary’s family and friends on Friday.”

More information and donations to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation can be made at and for the John Harston Foundation.