Monday, 27 February 2012
As I sit in the warm and bright treatment area in the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital surrounded by patients waiting or being treated, I become aware of my own health.
I am, to all intents and purposes, healthy. My family are healthy. What’s more, mercifully, no one in my immediate family has had to tackle cancer. But the people here from all walks of life have, and do so with immense bravery and stoicism.
I see men and women, young and old, and it’s not that these people are happy – many of these people are facing the finality of cancer – but they are remarkably cheery. Breakfast and blood tests, crosswords and chatting – often with each other about their shared experience – everything is conducted with a lack of drama and a complete absence of self-pity.
The nurses do their work: monitoring patients, administering medicines and conducting tests with good grace and tender humility, offering patients the benefit of their expertise and putting them at ease whenever possible. They make sure that people are fed and watered, comfortable and settled, and there is a sense that their jobs hold no boundaries or limits.
Meanwhile, the massage lady quietly passes between the clusters of easy chairs offering a relaxing five minute back massage to anyone who fancies it. Her friendly nature and gentle smile seems to draw away what anxiety or tension her clients must be feeling.
The wig lady pushes her trolley through the room and eyes those who might want to discuss their options with her. “Embrace it”, she says kindly as a lady wonders how to deal with her hair loss. They peruse the boxes of hairpieces together like many of us would when buying shoes in a shoe shop.
Ted is in his late sixties. He tells me this is his third time battling cancer, though he knows it will almost certainly be his last. “Not as many as Bobby”, he says casually with a smile in that way that we all seem to talk about Sir Bobby Robson – as if we knew him personally. He touches my arm as he tells me his story and a tear wells unashamedly in my eye.
He lost his beloved wife to cancer on the eve of retirement – “just when it was going to our time” he says, but talks warmly of life with his family, especially his grandchildren who he will be sad to leave behind. “I’ve had a good life”, he says.
Ted’s story is typical of those offering themselves for trials here. He’s here to take part in a trial of a drug that could save his life, but he’s happy to accept that it may only be others who benefit.
And it’s now that the state of my own health hits me. Of course, I’m very grateful – more so for having spent a lovely twenty minutes or so in Ted’s company – for my good health. I feel guilty almost for my healthy cells and fully functioning organs, though somehow I know Ted wouldn’t wish me to. But something else strikes me.
If I was Ted, if I was in his position, I could think of nowhere else I’d rather be having my last throw of the dice than here. Taking an opportunity to help myself and others.
Please keep giving, and please keep fundraising. Thank you.
Tom Chaplin, Writer in Residence, Sir Bobby Robson Foundation
Monday, 20 February 2012
The inaugural Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Celebrity Golf Day, held last April at Rockliffe Hall near Darlington, was hugely popular, uniting north east football in the fight against cancer and prompting immediate calls for a repeat.
The second Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Celebrity Golf Day, in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will be held this year on 2nd May and the venue is once again five-star Rockliffe Hall.
Last year’s very high profile event was supported by Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Patrons including Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson, Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, Sunderland AFC legend Niall Quinn and Sir Bobby’s Ipswich Town captain Mick Mills.
It was also generously supported by Hartlepool United, Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United, Leeds United and Middlesbrough football clubs, which all entered teams into the golf tournament that included players, former players and management.
The unparalleled line up of football celebrities created a very special atmosphere of unity before and after the golf and ensured strong competition out on the course.
The late Gary Speed, an enthusiastic supporter of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, also attended the inaugural Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Celebrity Golf day and will be a great miss this year.
Lady Elsie says: “My husband thoroughly enjoyed playing golf and nothing would have given him greater pleasure than to see so many good friends from within football coming together like they did at Rockliffe Hall last year.
“It was an absolutely wonderful day in glorious sunshine and we’re extremely pleased that it is going ahead once again. Alan Shearer and Niall Quinn have kindly agreed to play and we’re receiving great support once again from Steve Gibson.
“We are all looking forward to another very special day at Rockliffe Hall raising funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”
In addition to the charity’s Patrons, footballers, former players, executives, managers and coaching staff involved in the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Celebrity Golf Day last year included Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley, Lee Cattermole, Craig Gordon, Michael Turner and Steve Bruce.
Middlesbrough FC was represented by Matthew Bates, Andrew Taylor, Jason Steele and Adam Johnson - who travelled from Manchester to take part.
Hartlepool United’s team comprised Mick Wadsworth, Micky Barron, Ritchie Humphreys and Russ Green and Leeds United’s was made up of Alex Bruce, Billy Paynter, Paul Connolly and Ross McCormack.
In addition, Newcastle United was represented by Mick Martin, John Beresford, Alan Pardew, John Carver, Steve Stone, Andy Woodman, Ryan Taylor, Alan Smith, Shefki Kuqi, Shola Ameobi, James Perch, Tim Krul, Peter Lovenkrands, Steven Taylor, Steve Harper and Joey Barton.
Teams for the 2012 Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Celebrity Golf Day cost £545 and consist of four amateurs, or three amateurs plus a celebrity who is provided. The day includes a full buffet breakfast, 18 holes, drinks reception, dinner crafted by Rockliffe Hall’s Michelin-starred chef Kenny Atkinson, a very special auction and evening entertainment.
Alternatively, strictly limited numbers of tables for the evening drinks reception and dinner only are available.
Teams, dinner tables and sponsorship opportunities, including a golf hole, hole in one, nearest the pin and on course refreshments, are available now. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07782 109 758 or 0191 251 2222.
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
On Sunday night, the region’s football community came together to celebrate the very best of the 2010/2011 football season and to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Sponsored by Barclays, the 2011 North East Football Writers' Association awards dinner at Ramside Hall in Durham is a regular highlight in the region’s football calendar and this year was no exception.
The event was attended by players, managers, directors and officials from all of the north east football clubs including Alan Pardew and Tony Mowbray. It was also supported by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, who is a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Hosted by BBC Radio 5 Lives’ Ian Dennis, entertainment was provided by popular local comedian Josh Daniels who faced stiff competition on the laughs front from Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott.
Middlesbrough's Joe Bennett was named Young Player of the Year and there were special awards for Whitley Bay FC, Carlisle United, Hartlepool’s Ritchie Humphreys and Darlington manager Craig Liddle.
Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini was crowned Player of the Year, and said: “I was very pleased to receive the award, following in the footsteps of such Newcastle greats as Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer and Shay Given.
"I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, it really was a great honour for me.
"Coming on the back of a good win for us against Aston Villa, it made for a tremendous day for me, and I want to share this with my family, teammates, everyone at the Club and the fans."
The event was originally due to be held on 27th November and was postponed following the sudden death of former Newcastle United and Wales footballer Gary Speed. Warm tributes were paid to Gary and also to Sunderland Echo journalist Ian Laws who died recently aged just 41.
This is the third year the North East Football Writers' Association has supported the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and this year, for the first time, the Association and the charity jointly made an award to honour one of the region’s most respected football professionals.
The inaugural North East Football Writers' Association’s Personality of the Year, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, was awarded to Sunderland AFC’s Niall Quinn in recognition of his five years as the club's chairman and his wider contribution to the local community.
Niall was unable to attend and sent an appreciative video message, while the award was collected on his behalf by Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup hero Jimmy Montgomery.
Colin Young, representing the North East Football Writers' Association, said: "We're really proud of our association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Not only was Sir Bobby a great communicator, he was a man held in esteem by the whole of our region and beyond and that's the essence of our dinner - that local rivalry gets put to one side as we celebrate the best of each other and ourselves.
"The fact that the Foundation is raising money which directly helps cancer patients from across the whole of the North East and Cumbria is another reason why the partnership is a perfect fit.
“We're honoured that Lady Elsie and her family agreed to support our Personality of the Year award and hope that we've established a new tradition in keeping with what's always a great night."
Sunday, 5 February 2012
On Sunday (5th February) local rivalries will be put to one side as the region’s football community comes together to celebrate the very best of the 2010/2011 football season.
Sponsored by Barclays, the 2011 North East Football Writers' Association awards dinner at Ramside Hall in Durham is a regular highlight in the region’s football calendar. It will be attended by a star-studded guest list, which includes players, managers, directors and officials from all of the north east football clubs.
The event was originally due to be held on 27th November and was postponed following the tragic death of former Newcastle United and Wales footballer Gary Speed.
Tributes will be paid to Gary during the evening and the event will raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a charity he strongly supported.
“Everyone was devastated by the news about Gary. There was simply no way we could go ahead with the event in November." Colin Young, representing the North East Football Writers' Association said.
“He was someone my colleagues and I had a great deal of respect for because of the way he conducted himself on and off the field.
“Many of the guests and journalists at the awards knew Gary personally and this is an ideal occasion to pay tribute to a real football man who is greatly missed.”
This is the third year the North East Football Writers' Association has supported the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and this year, for the first time, the Association and the charity will be jointly making an award to honour one of the region’s most respected football professionals.
The inaugural North East Football Writers' Association’s Personality of the Year, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will be presented to Sunderland AFC’s Niall Quinn in recognition of his five years as the club's chairman and his wider contribution to the local community.
Lady Elsie Robson was particularly pleased to agree the nomination given Niall’s role as a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and his close links with her husband.
Commenting on Niall receiving the new award, Lady Elsie said: “My family and I are very proud that the inaugural Personality of the Year is not only going to a great football man, but also to a man who represents our charity so magnificently.
“He truly does maintain the same kind of football and community ethos as my husband.
“After we lost my husband, my family and I realised we needed support from Patrons who could help us continue the important work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Niall was one of the very first people I thought to ask for help.
“I know Bob would have approved whole-heartedly of Niall’s involvement with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we’re very grateful for his ongoing support.
“As everyone knows, my husband was a Newcastle United fan but he loved to visit the Stadium of Light. He was always very well looked after by Niall and they had a wonderful relationship based on mutual respect.
“Niall has represented Sunderland AFC as chairman with great dignity. His positive influence has extended far into the community and we wish him very well in his new role with the club.”
Newcastle United and England legend Alan Shearer, also a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will be supporting the awards evening, when Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini will be crowned Player of the Year. There are also awards for, amongst others, Middlesbrough's Joe Bennett and Whitley Bay FC.
Colin Young added: "We're really proud of our links to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we're thrilled that Lady Elsie and the charity have given their blessing to our new Personality of the Year award in Sir Bobby's memory."
"Our annual dinner is about the region's football clubs and their supporters joining together in harmony and friendship to celebrate the best of each other. There's no better symbol for that than Sir Bobby, who was universally respected, nor his Foundation, which benefits people right across the region. We think Niall is an appropriate and deserving winner."