Thursday, 20 December 2012

£4.7 MILLION RAISED TO FIGHT CANCER - LIKE “WINNING THE LEAGUE”

It has been an incredible year for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  Thanks to magnificent support from volunteer fund-raisers and generous donors, the charity launched by Sir Bobby in 2008 has now raised £4.7million and is making a significant impact in the fight against cancer.

During 2012, Lady Elsie officially opened the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit, which was jointly funded by the charity and Newcastle University.  The charity also announced it was contributing £850,000 towards life-saving new cyber surgery equipment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Both of these major advances in treatment and tumour detection for cancer patients will work in tandem with the clinical trials of new drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.  Together they are what Professor Plummer, director of the Sir Bobby Centre, describes as “pieces of a very special jigsaw to help fight cancer.”

Professor Plummer says: “We’ve been able to do so much thanks to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we’re very grateful to everyone who has helped.

“All the funny ideas which people come up with to raise money, the great physical challenges and the donations to celebrate an occasion or remember a loved one, they all make a difference.  Together they add up to a very significant amount of money and are helping fund truly world-class cancer facilities.

“Working together with the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle University and other charities we’re making real progress here and that’s exactly what Sir Bobby hoped for.

“Shortly before he died he talked to me about the Foundation being his legacy and how much he wanted it to continue.  Thanks to wonderful ongoing support, the charity is stronger than ever and next year even more cancer patients will benefit directly from innovative new approaches to detecting and treating the disease.”

In November (2012), the charity announced its largest funding contribution to date, £850,000, to help purchase the latest generation in cyber surgery.

The Varian TrueBeam STx with Novalis radiosurgery is only the second of its type in the UK and will dramatically improve the accuracy of radiotherapy treatment.  It will be used to treat tumours which are currently inoperable and delivers extremely high doses of radiation with pin-point accuracy.

Damage to surrounding tissue is minimal, vastly reducing potential side effects, and treatment is delivered in just a few short radiotherapy sessions.  Typically, a five to seven week course of conventional radiotherapy could be reduced to just one to three outpatient treatments.

It will offer curative treatment to up to 250 local patients each year that cannot currently be cured with either standard surgery or standard radiotherapy.

Lady Elsie says: “It gives me great pleasure to see the legacy my husband left through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation growing and helping even more people.

“The Foundation continues to be a great team effort against cancer and this really has been a great year for that team.  No doubt Bob would compare it to winning the league.

“We can only help the experts find better ways to detect and treat cancer with help from all the generous people who support us and I’m very grateful to everyone who has contributed in any way.

“We’re always so touched to receive even the smallest donations.  It’s such a thoughtful way to remember loved ones we have lost and to consider those who will have to fight cancer in the future.”

2013 promises to be another memorable year for the Foundation with major fund-raising events planned including Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration at the Sage, Gateshead on what would have been Sir Bobby’s 80th birthday.

Featuring Mark Knopfler, Roy Hodgson, Joe McElderry, Paul Whitehouse, Simon Day and many more, the gala event on 18 February is also in aid of The Alan Shearer Foundation.  The first release of tickets has sold out and VIP packages will be available in the New Year with details to be announced.

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008.  It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

£850,000 FUNDING SECURES CUTTING EDGE 'CYBER SURGERY'

Radiotherapy equipment which will revolutionise cancer treatment for patients in the north east and Cumbria has been secured for the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care thanks to £3 million funding from:

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - £1.8 million
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation - £850,000
Charlie Bear Cancer Appeal - £200,000
Newcastle Healthcare Charity - £150,000

The ‘Cyber Surgery’ service will be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology (Varian’s TrueBeamTM STx with Novalis radiosurgery) and will be the first of its kind in the UK outside London.  This has been made possible through a special collaboration between local hospital charities and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It will dramatically improve the accuracy of radiotherapy treatment delivery and will be used to treat tumours which are currently inoperable.

The term cyber surgery refers to stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). This technology is capable of delivering extremely high doses of radiation with pin-point multi-dimensional accuracy to malignant and benign tumours that are small and not amenable to treatment by surgery or conventional radiotherapy.

Damage to surrounding tissue is minimal, vastly reducing the potential side effects and treatment is delivered in just a few short radiotherapy sessions. Cyber surgery has been likened to removing a grape from the centre of an orange, without damaging the orange.

The stereotactic radiotherapy equipment will be used to treat a number of tumour sites in both children and adults such as brain, lung, pancreas, prostate, head and neck, liver and spinal tumours, both malignant and benign. This includes tumours which are otherwise inoperable.

There is also potential for a large number of cancers currently requiring long courses of conventional radiotherapy to be treated and cured with shorter courses. Typically, a five to seven week course of conventional radiotherapy could be reduced to just one to three outpatient treatments.

Cyber surgery at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care will enable local cancer patients from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire and from the Northumberland coast to West Cumberland, a population of 3.1 million, to be treated more quickly and effectively than ever before.

In December 2011, Sir John Hall, a patron of Charlie Bear for Cancer Care, a fund dedicated to raising money for the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital, launched a £3 million appeal to bring this state of the art radiotherapy to the region.  In less than one year, thanks to the overwhelming generosity and fundraising efforts of the North East public, the appeal has raised £200,000.

Now, in a special collaboration, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has made a massive £850,000 contribution to the appeal which, with a £1.8 million investment from the Trust and an additional contribution of £150,000 from the Newcastle Healthcare Charity, is the amount needed to finally secure the cyber surgery equipment for the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

This huge charitable contribution is down to the incredible individual and group fundraising efforts of ordinary people whose generosity has brought cyber surgery to the region. 

The joint announcement was made today, 29 November, at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. Representatives from the Charlie Bear Cancer Appeal, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Newcastle Healthcare Charity joined with Sir Leonard Fenwick, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive, to make the announcement.

Speaking at the press briefing today, Sir Leonard says: “I am extremely proud to announce that stereotactic radiotherapy is coming to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital. This is a truly collaborative approach with the charities working together with the Trust to ensure that the very best cancer treatment available anywhere will now be available on our doorstep in the hands of our world-renowned cancer specialists and leaders in clinical research.  This gives us the best possible chance to beat cancer.”

Professor Ruth Plummer, Sir Bobby Robson’s oncologist and a trustee of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “Sir Bobby launched this charity to make a genuine difference to other people fighting cancer and that’s just what we’ll do with this new equipment.

“Lady Elsie, Sir Bobby’s sons and all the Foundation’s medical trustees are all very excited by this latest generation of cyber surgery and what it will mean for patients. This equipment will allow us to research how best to use radiotherapy with some of the new drugs we have and so improve treatment for patients.

“It’s the largest contribution the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has made to date and we feel certain Sir Bobby would back our decision.  He would be very proud knowing the legacy he has left us through the charity is helping fund such important work – not only in helping treat people with cancer now but in the wider fight against the disease.

“It is a truly world-class facility which will work in tandem with the drug trials within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and new scanning made possible thanks to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit.

“We’re fitting together pieces of a very special jigsaw here to help fight cancer and all thanks to the wonderful and generous support given to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

Sir John Hall, a patron of the Charlie Bear Cancer Appeal, and who has had his own experience of cancer, says: “When I launched the cyber surgery appeal in December last year, I had every faith that our wonderful, generous North East public would come up trumps and deliver this amazing technology for the Northern Centre for Cancer Care. 

"This collaborative approach, however, was beyond my wildest dreams.  Bringing cyber surgery to the North East means we will have the very best treatment in this region and it will save and prolong lives. This has changed the face of cancer treatment in the region but it is just the beginning. We now need to keep on raising more money to develop the service and make sure that we remain at the cutting edge of cancer treatment in this country.”

It is expected that the equipment will be in place from mid March 2013 and following a period of commissioning, be fully operational by the Autumn.

1.    Radiosurgery is a very precise, intense form of radiotherapy (radiation therapy). Despite the use of the word ‘surgery’ in its name, it does not involve removing the tumour with a surgical blade. Instead, a focused high-intensity beam of radiation is used to target the tumour. As a treatment method, radiosurgery has two equally important goals:  to destroy or control the growth of the tumour and to do so while minimizing exposure to the surrounding normal, healthy tissue. (Courtesy Varian Medical Systems Inc).

2.    The equipment to be installed at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (the TrueBeamTM STx with Novalis radiosurgery) is manufactured by Varian Medical Systems Inc. of California.  Varian is the world’s leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery and brachytherapy.  The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centres and medical oncology practices . Varian is a leading supplier of tubes, digital detectors and image processing workstations for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific and industrial applications.  For more information go to  http://www.varian.com

Monday, 26 November 2012

BIKE FOR BOBBY’S GRAND FINALE

A dinner to mark the end of the incredible Bike For Bobby charity challenge raised thousands of pounds to fight cancer last night.

The ‘Geordie Legends’ dinner at the Hilton, Gateshead, celebrated the achievements of former Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC, Leeds United, Bolton Wanders and Hartlepool United defender Robbie Elliott who recently completed a 3,500 mile Bike For Bobby cycle ride with his friend, triathlete, Phil Gray,

Bike For Bobby, an epic cycling challenge to ride between the eight clubs, in four different countries, managed by Sir Bobby Robson, raised funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Guests at the celebration event included World Cup winner Jack Charlton and Lady Elsie Robson who spoke of her admiration and gratitude to all the Bike For Bobby team.

Lady Elsie says: “Through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, we’re able to help the experts find better ways to detect and treat cancer.  And we can only do that thanks to the belief and hard work of people fund-raising on our behalf and the wonderful generosity of those people who support and sponsor them.

“I’m simply amazed that Robbie and Phil completed this incredible ride, and on schedule, despite all the many challenges they came up against.  That shows a very special level of dedication and courage.

“What they have achieved is something they should take great personal pride in and I know my husband would also be very proud of them.”

Hundreds of guests turned out for the black tie event, which featured stunning footage from the Bike For Bobby documentary, live music and comedy from Simon Donald. 

Alan Shearer, a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, and Ant and Dec were unable to attend due to television commitments but sent video messages of congratulations to Robbie and Phil.

Robbie says: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us at the dinner for showing their support for two wonderful charities.

“I had a great night and it was a lovely way for Phil and I to round things off surrounded by friends and family.”

Robbie Elliott founded The Robbie Elliott Foundation earlier this year as a registered charity to  raise funds to fight cancer.  Bike For Bobby is jointly in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.



For more information or to donate please visit www.bikeforbobby.com.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

ALAN SHEARER'S BIKE FOR BOBBY CONGRATULATIONS

One of Robbie Elliott’s Newcastle United team mates is adding his congratulations to the former defender’s well-earned plaudits on achieving the incredible 3,500 mile Bike For Bobby challenge.

Alan Shearer is a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation which, along with Breakthrough Breast Cancer, will benefit from the money raised through Bike For Bobby.  He is full of admiration for Robbie and his co-rider Phil Gray and their great efforts to raise funds to fight cancer.

Alan says: “I met up with Robbie and Phil to wish them luck before they set off.  Then when Rob told me their plans in a bit more detail I thought - they really are going to need luck on their side to complete this.

“I’ve done a bit of long-distance cycling and found it very hard going and the scale of Bike For Bobby was unbelievable.  The route they took, and the clubs they visited on the way, reinforced for me just how special Sir Bobby’s managerial career was and I hear they got a warm welcome everywhere they went.”

Robbie, a former Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC, Leeds United, Bolton Wanders and Hartlepool United player, founded his own charity, The Robbie Elliott Foundation, this year to raise funds to fight cancer.  The initial aim of Robbie’s own charity is to raise money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Bike For Bobby, was an epic cycling challenge undertaken by Robbie and his friend, triathlete Phil Gray, to ride between the eight clubs, in four different countries, managed by Sir Bobby Robson.

It proved very hard and the duo battled mountains, road closures, punctures, injuries and an illness to Robbie, which threatened the future of the ride.  Incredibly, they cycled the equivalent of scaling Everest three times.

Alan adds: “I know the challenge was very hard physically and mentally and that both Robbie and Phil were spurred on knowing they were raising money to help fight cancer.  To have finished it on time despite the awful weather, illness and injuries is something for them both to be very proud of.

“I’ve no doubts Sir Bobby would be hugely touched by the efforts of the whole Bike For Bobby team.”

To donate to Bike For Bobby please visit www.bikeforbobby.com.  Final tickets are also available for Sunday’s (25th November) ‘Geordie Legends’ charity dinner at the Gateshead Hilton. 

Guests at the Bike For Bobby celebration event include Lady Elsie Robson, boxers Glenn McCrory, Billy Hardy and John Davison, Paralympian Stephen Miller, cricketer Steve Harmison, actor Stephen Tompkinson and footballers Jackie Charlton, Liam O'Brien, Paul Kitson, John Beresford, Rob Lee and Steve Howey.

The evening will feature stunning footage from the Bike For Bobby documentary, music and comedy from Simon Donald.  Tickets cost £100 and are available by emailing kirsty@robbieelliottfoundation.org.

Monday, 29 October 2012

THE ART OF RAISING MONEY TO FIGHT CANCER

The north east’s ‘own’ art gallery is celebrating its second birthday with a party - and by raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The North East Art Collective in Eldon Garden, Newcastle, is dedicated to talent from the region and features the work of 116 artists.  On 1st November, from 5.30pm until 9.30pm, the gallery is inviting art lovers to join their celebrations and meet artists over a glass of wine and nibbles at the gallery.

It is a chance to view an oil painting of the River Tyne by sought-after local artist Walter Holmes, which will be sold in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  The painting is on display from today (Saturday 27th October) and has a reserve of £1,000.

The galleries celebration is also the first opportunity to see an 18” bronze sculpture of Sir Bobby by Tom Maley.  The sculpture ( number one of only 25 ) is a  replica of Tom’s statue of Sir Bobby at St James’ Park and will be auctioned at the Bike For Bobby dinner on the 25th November.

The Bike For Bobby dinner, at the Gateshead Hilton, will celebrate the achievements of former Newcastle United player Robbie Elliott and his friend Phil Gray who are cycling across Europe between all the clubs managed by Sir Bobby to raise funds to fight cancer.

The North East Art Collective is the brainchild of John Thompson who, after redundancy, decided to follow his dreams and opened what is the north east’s premier gallery for local talent.

John says: “We’re very proud to be supporting the work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  The North East Art Collective exists to promote local talent and I think Sir Bobby would approve of that.

“There are so many talented artists in this region using a wide variety of styles and techniques.  We’d like to invite anyone with an interest in local art to join us on Thursday (1st November) to see what’s on offer and help us celebrate our birthday.”

The North East Art Collective houses artists specialising in watercolours, oils, photography, glass, ceramics, furniture design, textiles and sculpture.  The aim of the gallery is to showcase local talent across a range of artistic disciplines and offer for sale a range of work suitable for every pocket.

It has 10 galleries behind its small shop front and Walter Holmes and Tom Maley are just two of the North East Art Collective’s artists.  Other popular names include Mary Ann Rogers, Kevin Day, Roy Francis Kirton, Jim Edwards, Benie Wisniewski, Anthony Marshall, Charles Evans and Edward Tibbs.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

TOM'S BLOG: TONY 'THE FRIDGE'


The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation's writer-in-residence, Tom Chaplin, meets Tony 'the Fridge' Phoenix-Morrison:

A few hours in the company of Tony ‘the fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison left me completely exhausted. Yes, I tried on the fridge but it wasn’t that - though the thing IS very definitely heavy. Nor was it the time spent on the treadmill, at Tony’s insistence, with the fridge on my back learning the ‘fridge man shuffle’. What left me fatigued was Tony’s sheer strength, his determination to succeed and his passion for fund-raising.

Just last month Tony ran the Great North Run course on thirty consecutive days - including during the race itself - with a six stone fridge on his back. If you haven’t heard of his efforts, a) where have you been?! and b) you can see more about it by clicking here http://tyneandwear.sky.com/news/article/38813.

Tony is a successful businessperson and a really keen, experienced endurance runner so it’s easy to see where he got the drive and determination from to complete such a feat. But perhaps more amazing to contemplate is the story behind the run. Losing a family member to cancer was the inspiration for the run, allied to his motto “if I can’t, I must”. It became, Tony told me, something he just had to do despite the challenge, the doubts and the pain.

Having tried the fridge out over several distances - including last year’s Great North Run - Tony came up with this year’s challenge as a way of fund-raising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in memory of beloved family member Sheila who sadly passed away following a battle with cervical cancer. He wanted to support the staff of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre in their search for the improved diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

It was fascinating to hear how Tony dealt with the personal discomfort of so much running with the fridge on his back. The sores, the exploding pain in his feet and the way the fridge scraped at his back and forced his shorts to fall down every few hundred steps. It was great to hear too how, though he knew of other fridge/kitchen appliance runners, he had developed his own technique of running on his heels to combat the pain.

Perhaps what was most enlightening though were the stories of ordinary people – strangers – who as a result of Tony’s days and days on the Great North Run route became friends. The commuters, school children and shop keepers stuffing money into the fridge as he passed, the incessant tooting of horns from passing motorists, and perhaps most poignantly – the family of a man who sadly died from cancer during Tony’s month on the roads between Newcastle and South Shields.

He had wanted no flowers at his funeral, just donations to “that lad with the fridge,” Tony had proudly told me. At the finish one day, waiting for Tony, was this man’s family with £700 to put in the fridge.

Tony’s fundraising efforts have recently surpassed £13,000 and it won’t stop there. Tony and his fridge recently completed the Kielder Marathon, England’s hilliest – and you would think most un-fridge-friendly - marathon. And now he’s due to attempt a crazy 100 miles in 24 hours with the fridge and has plans for Land’s End to John O’Groats.

See, I told you it was exhausting.
 
Of course, you don’t have to run with a fridge on your back, or do 30 consecutive Great North Runs or both to fund-raise for the Sir Bobby Robson foundation. You perhaps just need a reason or some inspiration, or a goal however big or small. Please don’t stop what you are doing. Every penny raised in Sir Bobby’s name goes towards something truly remarkable. Good luck and thank you.    

If you would like to support Tony you can sponsor him here: http://www.justgiving.com/tonythefridge

Thursday, 11 October 2012

SIR BOBBY ROBSON – A CELEBRATION

A star-studded celebration and charity fund-raising event featuring Mark Knopfler, Joe McElderry, Roy Hodgson, Northern Sinfonia, The Unthanks, Paul Whitehouse, Simon Day and many more will be held on 18th February next year – on what would have been Sir Bobby Robson’s 80th birthday.

Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration will raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Alan Shearer Foundation and will feature Sir Bobby’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ performed by some of the country’s finest artists at the Sage Gateshead.

It will also feature Sir Bobby’s final interviews, which were originally filmed for use at this event when it was first planned, with his involvement, in 2009.

Sir Bobby was passionate about live music and enthusiastic at the prospect of a charity evening which would unite greats from football, music and comedy on the banks of the Tyne.

Sadly, because of his failing health, that original event was postponed and now the team behind it, with the help and input of both Lady Elsie and Alan Shearer, are pleased to fulfil Sir Bobby’s ambition by creating what is sure to be a spectacular and emotional evening.

Hosted by Sir Bobby’s friend Jim Rosenthal and, with many more big name acts to be announced, the star-studded gala night will celebrate the life of an extraordinary man.

Alan Shearer, founder of his own charity The Alan Shearer Foundation and a very active Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, is giving his full backing to Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration but unfortunately can’t attend the event itself due to a prior engagement.

Alan says: “I’m disappointed I can’t be there on the night but I’m honoured to be part of things.  Everyone could make the date except myself so we weren’t going to change the date just for me.

“Whenever you mention Sir Bobby’s name either here in the north east or around the country people are only too happy to help and that’s what’s happened here.

“It’ll be a great event and really it was Sir Bobby’s brainchild.  He started this off but unfortunately wasn’t well enough to see it through.  So from that point of view we’re all determined to put on a great evening which I’m sure people will really enjoy.”

One of the first names on the Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration ‘team sheet’ was The X Factor and Popstar To Operastar winner Joe McElderry. 

Joe, from South Shields, recently entered the top 10 of the album charts and garnered success with his fourth album 'Here's What I Believe'. McElderry is an Ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust and was quick to agree to support the event.

Today (11th October) he provided appreciative onlookers with a taste of what the gala night has in store by giving a powerful rendition of Nessun Dorma from the Sage’s second floor balcony.

Joe says: “I’m thrilled and very proud to be supporting Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration. 

“It says everything about Sir Bobby, and what his name stands for, that this event has attracted so many high profile names from music, football and comedy already.  And they tell me there are even more names still to come.

“It’s raising money for two wonderful charities and I know it’s going to be a very memorable night.  I can’t wait to be honest, it will be a very special evening and I’m looking forward to performing alongside some real music and comedy legends.”

Lindisfarne’s Ray Laidlaw, from Tynemouth, is one of the producers of the celebration night and was involved in filming Sir Bobby’s final interviews.

Ray says: “It was a great privilege to be involved planning this event with Sir Bobby back in 2009.  He was so keen to make it happen and now, thanks to wonderful support from Alan and Lady Elsie, that vision is going to become a reality at last.

“We used some of Sir Bobby’s final interviews in the dvd A Knight to Remember which has already raised over £100,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation but there will be footage on the night which has never been seen before.

“Even though he was so ill at the time we made the interviews Sir Bobby was so positive and committed to making them happen.  He was just a joy to film.  He came up with so many fantastic stories and his great enthusiasm for music shines through.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the team that’s finally going to make the show happen.  It will be an incredibly special night and will raise a lot of money for two wonderful charities.”

Tickets for Sir Bobby Robson - A Celebration are priced at £45, £60 and £75 and on sale from 12th October.  To buy tickets, or for more information, please call 0191 443 4661 or visit www.thesagegateshead.org.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT TAKES THE PLUNGE

Daily Telegraph football correspondent Henry Winter swam across the Tyne today (Sunday 9th October) to honour a bet and raise funds for cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

In 2010, such was the uncertainty surrounding Newcastle United that Henry promised to swim the river if the club committed long-term to Alan Pardew.  After Alan Pardew signed an eight year contract, Henry immediately agreed to fulfil his wager and take the plunge.

In glorious sunshine, he swam from Newcastle City Marina to the pontoon at Royal Naval Reserve training unit HMS Calliope on the Gateshead bank.  As he emerged from the cold river he was greeted with a Newcastle United towel courtesy of the club.

Henry undertook his swim in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge and under the bemused gaze of hundreds of shoppers at Newcastle’s popular Quayside Market.

Henry says: “I’m fresh and frozen, it was cold.  The first two thirds were a doddle and I thought this is ok, a nice gentle paddle across the Tyne.  But then suddenly the current hit and it was like the fast lane of the motorway.

“I could actually feel myself being dragged along and I was fortunate to have an experienced swimmer alongside me in Tony Greener.  In fact, at one point I think I grabbed Tony’s toe.

“It’s really been fun.  The reaction to my daft bet and this swim shows what a football mad city this is.

“Everyone has rallied round to help and that’s a sign of the depth of feeling for Sir Bobby and the great work funded through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“I have my own fond memories of Sir Bobby.  He was simply one of the greatest managers this country has produced and great man.

“And I thought it was a class act of Alan Pardew to send me a congratulatory note and a club towel.  He was obviously confident I’d make it because he sent it to the Gateshead side of the river.”

Henry was ably supported by experienced swimmer Tony Greener from North Shields, organiser of the annual Tyne 10 Mile River Swim and, after his chilly dip, headed off to more familiar surroundings to cover Newcastle United v Manchester United.

Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, was quick to offer Henry his best wishes saying: "Henry, you're a man of your word and I like that - congratulations!  I can't imagine how cold it was in the Tyne today, but rest assured we'll give you a warm welcome when you arrive at the stadium later.

“What's more, well done for raising money to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It's a superb charity that's close to all our hearts here at Newcastle United and across the North East, so a big thank you for that."

The Tyne is a dangerous tidal river and Henry’s swim was made only possible thanks to wonderful support from the Royal Naval Reserve training unit HMS Calliope, NE1 Ltd and Port of Tyne.

Warships HMS Example and HMS Archer are currently berthed at HMS Calliope and kindly made way for both Henry and the 'Sir Bobby Robson’ – Port of Tyne’s new dredger.  The Sir Bobby Robson was launched by Lady Elsie in the traditional manner earlier this year and the boat tracked Henry’s progress across the river.

Andrew Moffat, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Tyne, says: “This unusual event is for a very good cause and we were happy to assist with appropriate safety cover to ensure it all went well. 

“We would never encourage people to swim in the river without permission and supervision on hand, which of course the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has ensured is in place.

“The Port of Tyne is very proud to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation so when we were asked to help make this swim happen today in aid of the Foundation we were delighted to assist.”

Adrian Waddell, NE1 Ltd Director of Operations, adds: “‘We’re delighted that Newcastle City Marina has been able to help with Henry’s Tyne swimming debut and wish him and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation the very best of luck.”

To donate and support Henry, please visit www.justgiving.com/TyneSwim.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

TYNE FOR FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT TO HONOUR A BET...

When Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was awarded an eight year contract last week it landed one football correspondent in hot water - or rather, very cold water... 

In 2012, such was the uncertainty surrounding the club, The Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter promised to swim the Tyne if the club committed long-term to Alan Pardew.  Not one to back out of a bet, this Sunday (7th October) Henry will be swimming across the river in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge and is taking the opportunity to raise funds for cancer charity, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in the process.

With support from experienced swimmer and organiser of the annual Tyne 10 Mile River Swim, Tony Greener, Henry will take the plunge from Newcastle City Marina and swim across and down river to the pontoon at Royal Naval Reserve training unit HMS Calliope on the Gateshead bank.

In addition to Tony Greener from North Shields, who will be swimming alongside Henry, the swim has been made possible thanks to fantastic support from Port of Tyne, Northumbrian Water, NE1 and HMS Calliope.

Port of Tyne recently made a generous donation to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and named its new dredger ‘Sir Bobby Robson.’  The vessel was launched by Lady Elsie in the traditional manner and, fittingly, ‘Sir Bobby’ will be on hand as Henry undertakes his chilly crossing ahead of Newcastle United’s home game against Manchester United.

Henry says: “I honour my bets. I promised to swim the Tyne if Ashley showed long-term loyalty to Pardew.

“He has, fair play, so time for dip in Tyne...”

To donate and support Henry, please visit www.justgiving.com/TyneSwim.

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £4 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer.

It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.

Liz Luff from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation says: “We’re very grateful that Henry has chosen to help fight cancer and support the charity with his swim. 

“The Tyne is a dangerous tidal river and Henry’s receiving expert support to ensure his safety.  The way people have pitched in to help is very touching and we love the idea that ‘Sir Bobby’ will be on hand as Henry makes his way across the river.

“There are much easier ways to cross the Tyne and I’m sure the shoppers at Newcastle’s Quayside Market will be fascinated by his swim on Sunday morning.

“Henry deserves great credit for honouring his bet and we wish him the very best of luck with his challenge.”

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

TOM'S BLOG: GREAT NORTH RUN 2012

So, yes it’s true, at various points during the course I did get overtaken by a Dalek, a gingerbread man and a giant Tweety Pie. There are however a number of reasons for me to be happy with the Great North Run of 2012.  

First of all, I finished! And, may I add, in a time quicker than last year. Today, I can just about walk and who knows tomorrow I might be able to tie my own shoelaces. And my son and I have managed to put a little money into the pot from our fundraising and running efforts.

There are though many, many more reasons to be cheerful. Like for example the hundred plus runners who donned Sir Bobby Robson Foundation vests to compete in this year’s race in aid of the charity. With thousands of pounds going towards the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s aims and objectives it really was a day to remember. Everyone at the Foundation would like to thank you very much for your efforts – both on the day and via your fundraising. Your blood, sweat and tears ensure that the Foundation’s vital work continues.

Worthy of special mention is 'Tony the fridge' who ran the Great North Run course not once but THIRTY consecutive times with a six stone fridge on his back, culminating in Sunday’s run where he finished in good time, brought the Foundation to the attention of millions watching the race on television and had over £500 pounds in donations deposited in the fridge in just a few hours. Having fundraised every step of the way for the last month, Tony has now raised in excess of £10,000 for the Foundation, which is a superb effort.

Everyone at the Foundation would like to congratulate Tony on his extraordinary achievement and thank him for his amazing fundraising. We hope Tony is now taking a well-earned rest!

Thanks too should also go to all the volunteers who made the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s stand in the charity tent such a welcoming place for the runners after the race. The hot tea and chocolate bars were greatly appreciated. The atmosphere as always was superb and the opportunity to meet other Foundation fundraisers only added to the day.

And so to next year. Do you fancy taking on the challenge of the Great North Run in the colours of the Foundation? Yes? Why not run with me. Dalek overtaking guaranteed!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

RUN GEORDIE RUN FOR SIR BOBBY!

Ultra runner and charity fund-raiser Run Geordie Run, otherwise known as Mark Allison from Newcastle, has chosen to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation by running across Australia next year.

His challenge, which will also raise funds for The Children’s Foundation, will begin in Perth on 16th October and end in Sydney, on Christmas Eve, some 70 days later.  The 2,600 miles covers some incredibly harsh running conditions and will test Mark to the limit.

Lady Elsie says: “We’re very pleased Mark has chosen to raise funds in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation with his run across Australia.

“Mark’s raised a huge amount of money for charity over the years and has already supported our Foundation.  He was kind enough to give a motivational speech to our Great North Runners last year and is helping Robbie Elliott with his Bike For Bobby challenge.

“He’s set himself a very great challenge with this run but we have every faith in his abilities and know how committed he is.  Unfortunately he’s someone who knows the pain of losing loved ones to cancer and we know how determined he is to succeed.

“We look forward to getting more involved and finding out more about Australia as the months go on.”

You can follow Mark’s progress via his blog www.rungeordierun.com or via twitter @rungeordierun.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A VERY COOL FUND-RAISER GETS A WARM RECEPTION IN SOUTH SHIELDS

Tony ‘The Fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison from Hebburn, will complete his challenge of running 30 consecutive half marathons carrying a fridge tomorrow (Sunday 16 September) at the Great North Run.

He is raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and family, friends and supporters came together today to give him a rousing send off as he crossed the finish line for the 29th time.

The Geordie Chapter of the Harley Davidson Club and Tony’s under 14s football team also joined Tony for the last mile of the run – creating a great spectacle in the sunshine along the font at South Shields.

The team making arrangements for tomorrow’s event have supported Tony every day and opened the famous Great North Run finish line especially for him and cheered him across.

Tony says: “I feel really honoured by all the wonderful support today and every day.  Everybody coming together like this and celebrating what we’ve achieved is just fantastic.

“The success of the fund-raising really is testament to how much Sir Bobby was loved and, sadly, because so many people are affected by cancer.  I’ve heard all kinds of really touching stories from people as I’ve been running and I’ve been in tears some days.

“It’s been an honour to carry out this challenge.  I worked really hard to prepare for is and I’ve got stronger as it’s gone on. 

“I’ve got the run itself tomorrow but it’ll probably be the Great North Walk because I’ll be stopping to say hello to people on the way.  I’m just going to take my time and enjoy it.

“I am a little bit broken but I won’t take long to repair.  I stopped drinking for this challenge and I’ve never wanted a pint of lager more in my life.”

Tony has been supported every day by his wife Janita who drove him to the start line, mets him half way with hot tea, energy snacks and a change of clothes and then collected him at the finish line in South Shields.

In addition, Tony’s colleague Matt Norcliffe from Pelaw cycled behind him each day to provide support en route.

While Tony’s last fridge run will be the Great North Run, he is also planning to run the route the following day without the white goods “just for fun and dressed like the legend that is Brendan Foster.”

You can also follow Tony’s progress via Twitter @tony_the_fridge.  To support him and donate to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation please visit www.justgiving.com/tonythefridge.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

FIRST-IN-EUROPE CANCER EQUIPMENT OFFICIALLY OPENED BY LADY ELSIE

Today (Wednesday 12th September) Lady Elsie Robson officially opened the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit at Newcastle University.

The cutting-edge facility will make a significant difference to people fighting cancer in the north east and Cumbria as well as international efforts to find more effective treatments for the disease.

The unit, and the new equipment it houses, an Advanced Biomarker Technology ultra-compact cyclotron, was jointly funded by the University and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and is the first of its type in Europe and only the second in the world. 

It will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases and its purchase was only possible thanks to a contribution of £625,000, the largest to date, from the cancer charity Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched in 2008.

Lady Elsie says: “I’m so pleased to see this new unit open and we’re all very proud that the University chose to name it after the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“We’ve been discussing this new equipment for such a long time and because it’s so special it’s taken a great deal of effort to purchase and install it.

“To see all those discussions finally become a reality is just wonderful.  I’m very grateful to the Foundation’s medical trustees and Newcastle University for their hard work in making this possible.

“I’d particularly like to thank the many thousands of people who support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation through fund-raising events and by giving donations large and small.  Their great kindness and generosity is the only reason we have been able to buy the Biomarker Generator. 

“It’s truly humbling to think how much time and effort has gone into raising the £625,000 needed for this new equipment and I hope that everyone who has supported the charity in any way shares my feelings of pride and achievement today.”

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

Professor Herbie Newell, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at Newcastle University, explains: “Today’s official opening of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit is a very significant occasion for cancer research and cancer patients.

“Thanks to the funding received through the charity, we are now able to use a whole new screening technology to help us find out where cancers are in patients, how many there are and what they are.

“In CT and X-rays, the radiation comes from outside the patient, passing through the patient, and we take pictures of what comes out the other side.

“But in PET scanning, and what we’ll be able to do now with this new unit, we make the radioactivity and attach it to something called a tracer, which is injected into the patient so the radiation comes from the inside out.

“The first tracer we’re making will be one where we’ll attach the radioactivity to a sugar, which is taken up into the cancer because, like any other cells, cancer cells need energy to grow.  By taking an image of the patient after we’ve given them the tracer we’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where the cancers are.

“PET scanning will be particularly beneficial for patients on clinical trials of new drugs and we’ll be working closely with the team at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.  We’ll be able to establish much quicker than currently possible whether new drug treatments are working, and whether they are working in the way intended.  It’s going to make a big difference.

“This new generation of biomarker generators is cutting edge and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has helped make its purchase possible by supporting the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

The Biomarker Generator is being tested to ensure it meets international clinical standards and will begin to be used for patients within the year.

Lady Elsie adds: “When my husband and I began the Foundation we had high hopes for what could be achieved and I know Bob would be absolutely thrilled to see this new high tech unit. 

“This is what he wanted for his charity, to make a real difference for other people unlucky enough to find they have cancer.  It is a truly awful disease but today I feel the scientists, doctors and everyone who has helped the Foundation, have together made a very positive step forward in the fight against cancer.”

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

FREDDIE FLETCHER

Everyone involved with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was sorry to hear Freddie Fletcher has died.

Freddie, a former NUFC chief executive, was a great supporter of the charity and a close friend of Sir Bobby.

Lady Elsie “I was very sad to hear the news about Freddie. 

“He was a good friend of ours and when we set up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, he was one of the first people Bob approached for support.

“Freddie was a great help and played a key role in the charity’s launch.  He was always passionate and enthusiastic about the charity and I’m grateful to him.”

Saturday, 25 August 2012

MARATHON FOOTBALL ATTEMPT BEATEN BY THE WEATHER

A valiant attempt to play a 24 hour football match to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation ended earlier than planned due to appalling weather conditions.

Match officials were forced to call the game off after 13 hours play on safety grounds, much to the disappointment of players. 

However, the game raised a massive £5,400 for the charity and organiser Ian Carr, from Gateshead, is rightly proud of what the players achieved.

Ian says: “We’re disappointed not to have played the full 24 hours but completely understand the decision to stop play.

“We kicked off at 6pm and things were going well despite a bit of drizzle until about 1am.  That’s when the rain really started coming down and it was pretty unpleasant.

“There was torrential rain for hours and it showed no sign of letting up.  Eventually the St John’s Ambulance and match officials decided enough was enough.

“We were all feeling a bit down at first but now I think we’re all proud to have achieved what we did. 

“We’re really grateful to everyone who has sponsored us and helped us raise so much money for a very special cause.”

Players in the match came from Ashington, Morpeth, Tyneside and County Durham.  In addition, two soldiers travelled from Hull and there was a guest appearance from Tony ‘the Fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison from Hebburn who is running 30 half marathons with a fridge on his back to raise money for the Foundation.

Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “Ian and all the players, supporters and officials should be very proud of what they’ve achieved.

“The decision to stop play early was very sensible given how dangerous the playing conditions had become.

“The players are understandably disappointed but the weather was awful overnight and they showed great commitment to keep going as long as they did.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to the event and helped raise so much money for Sir Bobby’s Foundation.”

Thursday, 23 August 2012

JACK ALLEN

Everyone at the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was sorry to hear about the death of Jack Allen this week.

Jack, from Forest Hall, Newcastle, was a patient at the Sir Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and a supporter of the Foundation.

Lady Elsie was proud to meet Jack and his family recently at the launch of the new Football Corridor at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

She was proud to receive a cheque for the charity from Jack and his grandson Liam. 

Liam had done a Coast to Coast cycle ride to raise the money and presenting the cheque was an event which Jack's daughter Caroline described as "an afternoon that really did make us all smile."

Our thoughts are with Caroline, Liam and all of Jack's family at this sad time.

Monday, 20 August 2012

LADY ELSIE MEETS BRAVE YOUNG FUND-RAISER

Eight-year-old Elizabeth and 17-year-old sister Jaimee-Leigh Ridley from South Shields lost their dad Charles to cancer just three years ago.

In a cruel double blow, Elizabeth and Jaimee-Leigh then lost their mum, also called Elizabeth, to leukaemia in June this year.

In memory of her mum, and with the help of her large family, young Elizabeth then decided to make a collection at school for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to help other people fighting the disease.

Lady Elsie was pleased to receive a cheque for the charity for £303 from Elizabeth at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle.

Lady Elsie says: “I was proud to receive Elizabeth’s cheque on behalf of the Foundation and I’m very grateful to her family and everyone who has contributed.

“She’s obviously a very brave young lady and this is an extremely thoughtful way to remember her mum and help other people with cancer too.”

Elizabeth and Jaimee-Leigh’s dad, Charles Ridley, a former butcher, died aged 60.  After his death Elizabeth also helped raise funds for cancer research.

Elizabeth says: “I just wanted to do something special for my mum, just like I had for my dad. Everyone was very kind.”

Elizabeth Ridley, 53, was a former shopkeeper and died in June at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle after fighting leukaemia.

In 2010, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation provided £20,000 to the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group to buy a state-of-the-art microscope to help with research into leukaemia and which could have implications for other types of cancer too.

The Olympus BHX6 fluorescence microscope is connected to a highly sophisticated image analysis system and is making a big difference to the Group’s research according to Christine Harrison, Professor of Childhood Cancer Cytogenetics.

Christine, who is based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, says: “We know that genes within the bone marrow cells of patients with leukaemia and other cancers become ‘faulty’.  With this microscope funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation we can detect these faulty genes and determine the type of leukaemia that the patient has.

“More importantly, the particular gene fault indicates how well the patient will respond to treatment and the treatment offered to the patient is changed accordingly.  These changes to therapy have improved survival rates, particularly for children.

“And because the research of the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group, using this microscope, is focussed on the discovery of new faulty genes, that will lead to new and less toxic treatment for patients with all types of cancer.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and fund raisers for providing us with this microscope which has improved our research output for the benefit of cancer patients.”

Sunday, 19 August 2012

24-HOUR FOOTBALL HELPS FIGHT CANCER

On Friday (24th August) a very special football match to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation will be taking place at Gateshead Stadium.

The two teams of sponsored players will kick off at 6pm but won’t hear the final whistle until 6pm the next day – a full 24 hours of football later.

Ian Carr from Gateshead is organising the marathon match, with help from Peter Hughes, and hopes it will be as fun for everyone involved as it will be challenging.

Ian says: “We currently have 35 players and will be rotating the teams throughout the 24 hours.

“Everyone will play between 12 and 15 hours of football so we know it’s going to be extremely demanding physically and mentally, especially in the early hours of the morning and on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re hoping a lot of family and friends will come along to cheer us on and would welcome any extra support throughout the 24 hours.  On Friday night and all day Saturday there’ll be a bouncy castle, face painting and balloon modelling so plenty to occupy the kids too.”

The two teams are made up of players from Ashington, Morpeth, Tyneside and County Durham.  In addition, two soldiers are travelling from Hull to take part having obtained special leave ahead of their overseas postings.

Each player has been sponsored a minimum of £100 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Sunderland fan Dale Robinson, from Seaham, has raised a massive £1,050.

Ian adds: “This 24 hour match will be a completely new experience and something we’re all really looking forward to.  We’ve had a lot of help from the staff at Gateshead Stadium and our sponsors 4A Windscreens and Lifetime Flooring.

“We’ve also had fantastic support from our match officials who are all volunteers.  They include six referees who will be officiating for two hours at a time.

“Anybody who would like to take part and help raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation should get in touch.  We’ve already raised a total of £4,400 and hope to raise a bit more by 6pm on Saturday.”

For the last four years, along with colleague Neil Eddy, Ian has organised the successful Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Robson 5s five-a-side tournament, which is played each summer at Soccerworld on the West Road, Newcastle.

Anyone interested in taking part in the 24-hour match should contact Ian Carr on 0790 3400 581.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

ROBBIE ELLIOTT WAXING LYRICAL ABOUT BIKE FOR BOBBY TRAINING

In October, former Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC, Leeds United, Bolton Wanders and Hartlepool United defender Robbie Elliott will be cycling 3,500 miles to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Bike For Bobby is a cycling challenge being undertaken by Robbie and his friend and co-rider Phil Gray to ride between the eight clubs, in four different countries, managed by Sir Bobby Robson.

Today training stepped up a gear as the duo had their legs waxed, which is a professional cycling technique to aid massage and help prevent infections should they come off the bike.

It was a first experience for them both, and one they found painful, but that didn’t prevent them from leaving the beauty salon and heading straight on the bikes for more training.

Robbie says: “We’re training hard and working hard and it’s starting to get exciting now.  We always earmarked the waxing as one of the build up things to the ride so now we know we’re getting closer.

“It’s really starting to take hold, what we’re doing, and things are moving fast with more and more people getting on board and showing support.

“It’s really enjoyable at this moment in time but we have to come back for another leg wax in about four weeks.  It’s going to be tough coming back for that because today was the first time I’ve ever had it done and it hurt.

“I didn’t know what to expect and I’d been told a lot of horror stories about waxing.  Thankfully I wasn’t the bleeder people said I would be.”

Bike For Bobby will see Robbie and Phil cycle from Lisbon to Newcastle via Porto, Eindhoven, Ipswich and London (Fulham and Wembley) in less than four weeks as they pay tribute to Sir Bobby and raise funds to fight cancer.

For more information, or to donate to Bike For Bobby, please visit http://www.robbieelliottfoundation.com/.

Monday, 6 August 2012

FIRST-IN-EUROPE CANCER EQUIPMENT

Experts have been providing a preview of the equipment, and the newly-created unit, which will help north east scientists fight cancer thanks to the biggest donation to date from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Newcastle University and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation have purchased an Advanced Technology Biomarker Generator, an ultra-compact cyclotron, the first ever in Europe and only the second in the world of its type. It will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and others serious diseases and is housed in what is now called the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit.

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

Professor Herbie Newell, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at Newcastle University, explains: “This is a fantastic step forward for cancer research and cancer patients.

“What we’ll be able to do thanks to fantastic support from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is bring in a whole new screening technology which will help us find out where cancers are in patients, how many there are and what they are.  And, importantly, when we are trying a new treatment, whether or not these new treatments are working.

“We’re all used to x-ray and CT scans where you get pictures which show where things are inside the body – such as cancers.

“In CT and x-rays, the radiation comes from outside the patient, shines through the patient, and we take pictures of what comes out the other side.

“In the case of PET scanning, and this new PET tracer production unit, we are making the radioactivity and attaching it to something which we inject into the patient so the radiation comes from the inside out.

“The first tracer we’ll be making is one where we’ve attached the radioactivity to a sugar.  And that sugar is taken up into the cancer because, like any other cells, cancer cells need energy to grow, but because they’re growing so rapidly they take up more and that allows us to pinpoint where exactly the cancers are by putting the patient inside a camera after we’ve given them the radioactive material.”

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £4 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer.

It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to international research into the disease.

The Foundation’s medical trustees are always looking for the next breakthrough, the next promising investment into cancer equipment or training and always looking to fulfil Sir Bobby’s ambition to help other people facing the hard fight against cancer.  It was originally launched to raise £500,000 required to equip a cancer trials research centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

Professor Newell adds: “Thanks to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation we already have a really world class cancer trials unit at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care. 

“What we’ll be able to do with this new facility is offer patients who are taking part in early phase trials at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre this new test to tell us, and them, much quicker whether the drugs are working in the way we intended.

“This new generation of biomarker generators is absolutely cutting edge.  And it’s great to have this here and to offer this facility to patients.  We’re all very grateful to everyone who has helped make this possible by supporting the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

The Biomarker Generator will be officially opened later this year by Lady Elsie.


How the Biomarker Generator works:

The biomarker generator produces a radioisotope – a radioactive marker which can be attached to an imaging agent. The imaging agent is administered to a patient by injection then they are put into a PET scanner so that clinician gets an image which allows them to see where the cancer is in the patient and how large it is, if drug treatments are reaching the cancer and hitting their targets, and whether the cancer is responding to the treatment.

The specially-created Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit consists of 4 rooms:
*Biomarker generator – in an accelerator the protons spin round, which then impact the target, producing a radioactive marker for attachment to the imaging agent.

The generator is surrounded by a thick coat of boronated concrete which soaks up any neutrons.
The radioisotope produced is pushed through a tube by the flow of argon to the clean room.

*Clean room – a completely sterile room where the isotope is attached to the imaging agent being tested. The isotope enters equipment through the tube by flow of argon into the chemistry system. Here, the radioisotope is attached to the imaging agent.

*Hot lab – room where product is tested to check it is up to medical standards –known as British pharmacopeia.

*Collation room – a clean room where scientists confirm that the imaging agent is suitable for administration to patients and it is put into a special lead box ready for transportation to the hospital.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit is a joint project between Newcastle University and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  The Foundation has made a record contribution of £625,000 to ensure its purchase.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

TOM CHAPLIN: WRITER IN RESIDENCE BLOG


There are times when being involved with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation leaves me feeling proud. Or amazed. Or emotional! Sometimes – like many people - I feel sad too, for understandable reasons. Today though, was a day for pure wonder. Why?

Well, whilst the science baffles me – let’s face it, it doesn’t take much – seeing scientists gleefully excited about the arrival of equipment that will make a huge difference to cancer research and treatment is a genuinely thrilling experience.

In the basement of an unassuming building at Newcastle University, funded to the tune of £625,000 by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and a significant contribution from the University, now sits Europe’s first Advanced Biomarker Technology Biomarker Generator Compact Cyclotron.

Due to be officially unveiled later this year, a few lucky folk were allowed a sneaky peek today and Professor Herbie Newell (Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at Newcastle University's Northern Institute for Cancer Research) and Dr Mike Carroll are right to be proud of their new piece of equipment.

This is only the second biomarker generator of its type in the world and it will be used to do something truly revolutionary in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The biomarker generator will allow clinicians to better understand the location and size of cancer in a patient whilst also allowing them to assess if drug treatments are reaching the cancer and hitting their targets, and whether the cancer is responding to the treatment.

All of which is brilliant news for cancer patients in the north east, Cumbria and beyond. But the wonder doesn’t stop there. 

For while new equipment is exciting, and very clever people doing clever things with that new equipment is inspiring, it is important to remember how that equipment came to be in the hands of the very clever people in the first place. 

The answer is of course through the amazing work of the Foundation’s amazing fundraisers. Coffee mornings, sponsored reads, swims and silences. School projects, pub whip-rounds, shaking a collection bucket. The hordes of Great North Runners. Charity climbs, treks and challenges. 

Please don’t stop doing what you are doing – you are making a difference and funding life changing projects like this one. That is truly wonderful.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

SIR BOBBY'S FAMILY COMMENTS ON ANNIVERSARY OF SIR BOBBY'S DEATH

Speaking on the third anniversary of his Dad's death, Mark Robson says: “In the weeks before he died, Dad said he wanted the Foundation to be his legacy for other people fighting cancer.

“That’s certainly what it’s become and I’ve no doubts he’d be incredibly proud of everything we’ve already achieved.

“As a family, we’re working closely with the medical trustees of the charity and they are always looking for the next innovation or new treatment which could make a big difference.

“There are exciting plans in the pipeline and we’re very grateful to everyone who is helping us to continue the work my Dad started.

“My brothers, my Mum and I have all been a bit taken aback by the ongoing strength of support for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  That makes us more determined than ever to keep it going and to fulfil Dad’s wishes.  Each day makes us even prouder than the last.

“I’ve been thinking about him this week because of the Olympics.  He loved his summers of sport.  And with the Test Match starting he’d be flicking between that and the Olympics and commenting on them both and absolutely glued to the action.”

Friday, 20 July 2012

ANT AND DEC BACK BOBBY BIKE BID

Geordie royalty Ant and Dec have raced to back former Toon favourite Robbie Elliott in his bid to Bike For Bobby.

This autumn Elliott will cycle 3,500 miles from Lisbon to Tyneside raising funds for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

And Dec said: “We were huge fans of Sir Bobby Robson and were lucky enough to meet him and get to know him. 

“He was a great man and his charity continues to do amazing things in his name, which is what he wanted.”

Ant added: “Unfortunately everyone is affected by cancer at some point in their lives in one way or another. 

“We really admire Robbie’s commitment to raising funds to fight cancer and wish him the very best of luck with Bike For Bobby.”

Earlier this month Elliott came through his first 120-mile ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle alongside fellow Bike For Bobby rider Phil Gray.

“I was a little saddle sore but it wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated,” said the former Newcastle, Sunderland, Bolton and Hartlepool favourite.

“The thing is I have to do that kind of distance every day for more than three weeks during Bike For Bobby!

“To have the likes of Ant and Dec in my corner is a massive boost. I’ve known the pair of them for years but it’s still incredibly kind of them to support me at this time.”

To make a donation to Bike For Bobby text TREF03 to 70070. For further details on the event and to check out a new video teaser visit www.robbieelliottfoundation.com

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

SCHOOL FUND-RAISERS RAISE OVER £10,000

                  
Pupils at a North Tyneside School have raised an incredible £10,588 for north east cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Last year, George Stephenson High School in Killingworth nominated the Foundation as its charity of the year and raised the money through a variety of fund-raising activities.

Alan Shearer, a Patron of the charity, sent a personal message of thanks and signed achievement certificates for pupils to recognise the school’s magnificent fund-raising efforts.

Alan says: “I was hugely impressed to hear about the commitment and enthusiasm both staff and pupils at George Stephenson High School showed towards the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“When Sir Bobby launched this charity back in 2008 he created something very special.  Representing the Foundation as a Patron is something I take great pride in and never more so than when I hear about dedicated fund-raisers like this.

“To have raised this amount of money is an enormous achievement and everyone involved should be very proud of their efforts.”

Liz Luff from the Foundation collected the cheque and presented certificates to pupils who had been singled out as particularly committed to the fund-raising efforts.

Activities were undertaken throughout the year including supermarket bag packing, non-uniform days, sponsored games, tuck shops, raffles, cake sales, car washing, a fun run, golf day and a charity game-show night.

Head teacher, Ian Wilkinson, says raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was a very positive experience and one which the whole school are proud of.

He says: “We are very proud of our students raising so much money for a fantastic cause. It’s great that they are so willing to get involved and give up so much of their time in order to help others less fortunate than themselves.

“We really appreciate Alan sending a message of thanks and signing the certificates to recognise their achievement.”

Kelly Scott, aged 15 from Burradon, is one of the pupils who helped raise the money. 

She says: “The whole school voted on the charity we wanted to support and I chose the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because my aunt has cancer.

“Everyone was really enthusiastic about the fund-raising and the non-uniform days went down especially well.  Probably because we sold cakes and sweets at break time.”

Friday, 13 July 2012

FOOTBALL ARTWORK UNVEILED AT REGIONAL CANCER CENTRE



A new football themed permanent exhibition was opened yesterday (Thursday 12th July) at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC), Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The photography exhibition will enhance the corridor which leads to the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and has been funded by law firm Ward Hadaway, Sintons Solicitors and the charity Football Aid, Field of Dreams.

'The Football Corridor’ is a series of photographic montages capturing historic football moments as well as more recent events for the region’s clubs.  The images reflect the passion for the game in the north of England and were donated by local media and football clubs.

In addition to Middlesbrough FC, Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United, the exhibition covers 14 north East and Cumbrian clubs from Workington to Bishop Auckland, Dunston to Blyth and Carlisle to Hartlepool.  It also features Sir Bobby's Ipswich Town and England highlights and has been created by NCCC arts advisor Germaine Stanger.

Germaine has been involved in art in hospitals since leaving Northern Arts to become a freelance arts consultant.  Her work has covered many projects in connection with marketing the arts to a wider public and creating opportunities for organisations to incorporate the arts into their projects.

Germaine says: “I’m thrilled to see The Football Corridor come to fruition alongside the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.

“Sir Bobby was proud to receive his treatment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and contributed so much to help other people with cancer by setting up his Foundation.

“The Football Corridor is in tribute to him and designed to visually express this region’s passion for the game.

“I gained a great respect for football photography during its creation.  Some photographers manage to catch, in just a split second, balanced compositions full of incredible energy and emotion.  I hope they will interest patients and their families for years to come.”

Patients attend the NCCC for specialist cancer treatment from across the north east and Cumbria.  Fittingly, The Football Corridor is located just outside the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and Lady Elsie Robson was among guests attending the launch.

Lady Elsie says: “Bob received excellent care at the Freeman Hospital and he was so proud when the new cancer trials centre was named in his honour.

“The Football Corridor is a wonderful idea and looks great.  Like so many people, I’ve experienced that draining feeling of repeated hospital visits and the worry that goes along with them.  Anything which gives patients and their families something to interest them as they walk through the hospital has to be a good thing.

“Germaine’s done a great job bringing together the images and it was good of her and the hospital to invite me to be part of their exhibition opening.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

FIVE DAYS, 123 MILES, A STORM, A BIRTHDAY AND A MARRIAGE PROPOSAL

Stephen Turnbull, from Acomb near Hexham, was tormented for years by the map of northern England on his office wall.

The route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth ‘screamed out’ at him to be run until eventually his family’s experiences with cancer pushed him to undertake the challenge to raise funds in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

It took him five days to complete the 123 mile run, during which time he weathered a massive storm, celebrated his 46th birthday and proposed to his girlfriend.

Stephen says: “It’s hard to explain but that map on the office wall has distracted me for ages.  Thinking about doing that coast to coast run just wouldn’t go away.

“Finally I decided to do it because of what cancer has done to my family.  My aunt died from breast cancer, my cousin died aged just 29 and my mum is fighting liver cancer now.  I wanted to do something for them and for other people fighting this terrible disease and finally thought enough is enough, it’s time to stop thinking about it and actually do it.

“I’m a football coach and big fan of Sir Bobby Robson and I immediately thought of raising money for his Foundation.  Cancer was the reason I undertook the challenge and Sir Bobby was the inspiration.” 

Stephen, an IT sales manager and coach of Hexham Greens FC, was supported on his run by girlfriend Helen Hails who followed in a car.

Stephen adds: “I couldn’t have done this without Helen’s help.  The day of the big storm was hilarious.  I just got so wet it was funny.

“The final day was amazing.  I ran 35 miles, which was the furthest I ever have, and was just getting slower and slower. Thinking about my family, Sir Bobby and the people backing me for his charity really helped.

“My head was so full up.  It was my last day and I knew my mum and family would be at the beach, it was also my birthday and I knew I was going to propose to Helen.  But when I got the Tynemouth I was so exhausted all I could think was, I can’t believe the flaming tide’s out, now I’ve got another couple of hundred yards to run!

“Helen came down to the sea with me and I got down on one knee to propose.  Thankfully she said yes and the first thing she did as my fiancĂ© was to help me get back up.

“It was an incredibly tough challenge and for my next birthday I think I’ll just eat some cake.  But I enjoyed it a lot and the money raised made it all worthwhile.  It was an unforgettable experience.”

Stephen’s target for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was £500 and he has gone on to raise over £1,500.

The money will directly benefit people in the north east and Cumbria fighting cancer and will contribute to the international search for more effective treatments for the disease.

Pauline Buglass, head of fund-raising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “Stephen’s efforts for the Foundation are greatly appreciated.

“He’s taken on an incredibly hard challenge and seen it through to the end.  He should be very proud of his achievement and we’re very grateful to him and everyone who has sponsored him.”

Stephen’s JustGiving page is at www.justgiving.com/run4sirbobby.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

CYCLE, SWIM AND RUN GEORDIES RUN!

A former Newcastle United favourite is teaming up with one of the north east’s best-loved charity champions to prepare for an epic journey this autumn.

Ex-Magpies defender Robbie Elliott is cycling across Europe and the UK in October as he embarks on Bike For Bobby.

Elliott and friend Phil Gray will cycle 3,500 miles non-stop visiting all of the clubs Sir Bobby Robson managed during a celebrated coaching career.

And next month the duo will join Mark Allison – better known as Run Geordie Run – in an event hand-picked to prepare Elliott for his fundraising marathon.

The trio will compete in the 2012 Castles Challenge Triathlon on July 28-29 with Allison running, Elliott cycling and Gray swimming.

“I follow Robbie on Twitter and as someone who’s undertaken a big challenge in the past it’s great to see his journey taking place,” said Allison, who will embark on his own marathon trek across Australia next year.

“The fact that he started out as a footballer and now he’s attempting to become an endurance cyclist is fascinating. He’s seeing the miles building up and the event drawing closer and I’m right behind him all of the way.

“I like following lots of people’s journeys on Twitter and Robbie’s is one of them. It’s a bit different, very ambitious and a great journey to follow.”

It was only after a meeting with Allison that Elliott decided to set up The Robbie Elliott Foundation (TREF) and raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer through Bike For Bobby.

And Allison added: “The fact that I inspired him to do Bike For Bobby is really humbling and I was very flattered when he asked me to be part of his team for the Castles Challenge. I’ll be looking at doing the run in around one hour 50 minutes and I’m sure he could have found someone faster!

“But it’s come full circle. It was after I met him following my trek across America that he decided he wanted to do something big for charity and a year down the line we’re back together doing an event to promote Bike For Bobby.

“And it’s extra special for me as I spent my summer holidays as a child under the shadow of Bamburgh and Alnwick castles. It will bring the memories flooding back and I can’t wait to get going.”

Former England Under 21 defender Elliott, who played for Newcastle during two spells at St James’s Park, is proud to have Allison on his team.

“Mark is a big part of why I’m doing Bike For Bobby and he’s supported me every step of the way,” said the Gosforth-born strength and conditioning coach.

“When I saw what he had done and how much money he had raised I felt genuinely moved. I’d always wanted to do something similar and he gave me the inspiration to launch my Foundation and embark upon Bike For Bobby.”

This is the fourth year of the Castles Challenge Triathlon but for the first time there will be Junior Triathlons and a Sprint Distance Triathlon on the Saturday, which will start and finish at Bamburgh.

The race on the Sunday – featuring Elliott and Allison - will become a Middle Distance (Half Iron) Race and follow the same format as in previous years starting at Bamburgh and finishing at Alnwick Castle.

Junior races will take place on the Saturday lunchtime with the Adult Sprint Racing taking place at 5pm followed by a post race presentation party.

Organisers have promised a packed programme of activities with food and entertainment throughout the weekend.

To back Bike For Bobby text TREF03 to 70070 and make your donation or visit www.robbieelliottfoundation.com

For more information on the 2012 Castles Triathlon visit www.castlestriathlon.co.uk

Saturday, 9 June 2012

NEWCASTLE UNITED TERRACE FAVOURITE RAISES FUNDS TO FIGHT CANCER

It’s a classic Tyneside anthem celebrating its 150th anniversary, today (9th June) and the Blaydon Races is also helping to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation thanks to local band The Longsands.

The popular Cramlington group released their own version of the song in aid of the cancer charity raising a massive £1,235.

Lead singer, Trevor Cox, presented a cheque for the money raised to football legend Alan Shearer, a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, who officially named an East Coast train ‘Blaydon Races’ this week.

Trevor says: “As a group we wanted to do something to help the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and this seemed like a very appropriate way to do it.

“Everyone knows someone affected by cancer and it’s important to keep funding research which will help make the disease a thing of the past.

“We’re proud to be involved and grateful to all our fans who helped by buying the Blaydon Races single.”

150th anniversary celebrations of the Blaydon Races will be in full swing on the 9th June, including the famous Blaydon Race. 

A host of events are planned including a five-a-side football competition, The Blaydon Races 150 Tournament, organised by Craig Ball, from Medburn, near Ponteland, in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

FOOTBALL FUND-RAISING HELPS FIGHT CANCER THIS SUMMER

With Euro 2012 and the Olympics coming up, this summer offers a feast of football for spectators. 

And for football fans who want to take a more active part in the game, there are two opportunities to play and help the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in the coming weeks.

Craig Ball, from Northumberland, and Ian Carr, from Gateshead, have both organised five-a-side football competitions in aid of the charity in June and July and jointly aim to raise funds to fight cancer while promoting the five-a-side form of the game.

Craig’s competition, The Blaydon Races 150 Tournament, is open to men’s and women’s teams and will be held at Complete Football in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 9th June.

Craig says: “Initially I chose the 9th June for the competition because it’s the first weekend of Euro 2012 and thought it would be a good way to ‘warm up’ for the tournament.

“I’ve just returned to the north east from working in South Korea for a few years and when someone pointed out the significance of that date I decided to get involved with the Blaydon Races 150th anniversary too. 

“We’re all looking forward to the football, raising some money for a really important cause and celebrating the Blaydon Races’ heritage too.”

Ian Carr is becoming a veteran Sir Bobby Robson Foundation fund-raiser and this is the fourth year he and his colleague Neal Eddy have organised the Robson 5s tournament held at Soccerworld, West Road Newcastle.

This years’ event is being held on 1 July and is once again open to men’s, women’s and junior teams and is being supported by players from across the region.

Ian says: “Every year we’ve had teams made up of Newcastle, Boro and Sunderland supporters, which adds to the competitive feel of the day and this time we’ve got our first Cumbrian entry with a team coming from Carlisle.

“The tournament’s always played in a great spirit and is a lot of fun but when local pride is at stake you know the teams are going to be trying their best.

“It’s important for us to feel we’re doing our bit to help the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation through the competition.  Feedback about the day, and giving five-a-side players the chance to support the Foundation, is always good and we’re hoping this year will be another special event.”

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise £4,095,264 to help find more effective treatments for cancer.

It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.

Professor Ruth Plummer was Sir Bobby’s oncologist and is director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and a trustee of the Foundation.

Commenting from the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting (ASCO) in Chicago, USA, where she is involved in presentations about trials work being done at the Sir Bobby Robson Centre in partnership with trials units at Royal Marsden, Cambridge, Beatson Glasgow, Christie Manchester, Leeds, Oxford, and Kings London, Professor Plummer says: “Clinicians like myself who work directly with patients see the benefits of the Foundation first hand and on a daily basis. 

“It’s making a huge difference to the lives of people fighting cancer and that’s exactly what Sir Bobby hoped would happen when he set up this charity.  We’re understanding more about cancer as a disease as research progresses and this is leading to new treatments being developed, which really help patients battle this terrible disease.

“The work we’ve funded through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, and the work we’re looking at funding in the near future, is completely dependent on money raised through events like those being organised by Craig and Ian.

“We’re very grateful to all our fund-raisers and everyone who has made a donation to support our work.”

Further information about The Blaydon Races 150 Tournament on 9th June can be found at www.justgiving.com/euro2012sbrf, while information about the Robson 5s can be found at www.therobsonfives2012.co.uk.