Thursday, 29 November 2012


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

Monday, 26 November 2012


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

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


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  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