Monday, 29 October 2012


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


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

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:

Thursday, 11 October 2012


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

Sunday, 7 October 2012


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

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


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

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.”