Tuesday, 28 August 2012


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.”