Friday, 29 March 2013


By the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation's Writer-in-Residence - Tom Chaplin:

When a charity such as the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation celebrates a milestone like its fifth birthday, having recently reached the staggering fundraising total of £5.2million pounds, it's difficult to know who to thank first.

Should we send a special message of thanks to Sir Bobby himself, grateful for the sacrifices he made whilst very ill to push the Foundation forward, reaching its first milestone of £500,000 in just seven weeks? Of course we should.

But then what of his family, of Lady Elsie his wife who attends so many events, working tirelessly to push that total upwards? Or her sons – Paul, Andrew and Mark, who are always on hand to support her and the Foundation with energy and tenacity that their dad would be proud of? Of course we should.

Or we should begin with the hard-working administrative and accountancy team who work within the NHS, people like Pauline Buglass and Mike Love.  Or Liz Luff of Longstone Public Relations who publicises the charity? Of course we should.

But what about the Foundation's Patrons? Should we start our list of thanks with Alan Shearer, Niall Quinn, Steve Gibson, Mick Mills and Delia Smith – who lend their time, their profile, meeting patients and fundraisers and publicly representing the Foundation which great enthusiasm and passion? Of course we should.

Or Lady Elsie’s friends, also Patrons, who tirelessly support her and the work of the charity behind the scenes – Janet Bruce, Jane Morgan, George Caulkin and Rita Hogan? Of course we should.

Or surely we should begin with Professor Ruth Plummer, Sir Bobby's oncologist during his fifth and final battle with cancer, who came up with this whole fundraising idea in the first place? Of course we should. Or her colleagues, the team of magnificent doctors, researchers, nurses, scientists and support staff who are doing such an amazing job every day of the week at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Freeman Hospital. Should we start with them? Of course we should.

But what of the patients who attend the Centre, those who give their time so generously to the trials Professor Ruth and her colleagues are carrying out, when they are often very poorly and having to make huge personal sacrifices to help others? Should we begin with a special thanks to them? Of course we should.

Or what of the fundraisers, like Bike For Bobby’s Robbie Elliott and Phil Gray, Tony 'the Fridge' Phoenix-Morison, Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction’s Gina Long, the team behind Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration or ‘Run Geordie Run’ Mark Allison – all of whom raise huge sums for the charity and generate so many positive news stories? Of course we should.

Or those who arrange coffee mornings, bake cakes, do sponsored walks, shave their heads, give up treats, organise recitals and so much more in an effort to raise significant funds for the Foundation? Should we begin with them? Of course we should.

Or maybe be it would be most appropriate to begin by remembering all those who lost their lives through cancer.  To start by thanking the families and friends who have lost loved ones to the disease and celebrated their lives through funeral collections and emotional fund-raising events for the charity?  People who know all too well the pain of cancer and who don’t want others to experience it.

Maybe though, with so many people to thank on this special occasion it's not possible to start with anyone. Maybe we should just say a huge well done instead? Yes, well done. A huge well done to everyone. Well done… And thank you!

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