Sir Bobby’s legacy

A YEAR to the day since his death from cancer, Sir Bobby Robson’s legacy is helping to save lives across the country.

As the former Newcastle United and England manager battled cancer for the fifth time, 15 years after his first diagnosis, he devoted the last 18 months of his life to raising funds to support those leading efforts to find a cure.

In March 2008, he created The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation which is focused on the early detection and treatment of cancer and the clinical trials of new drugs that could eventually beat it.

The foundation has raised �2.4m since its launch and has helped fund The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre within the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

As many as 600 patients from the North East and Cumbria have received treatment at the premises since it opened in February last year and promising work is already being done into understanding the disease.

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It gives North East patients access to clinical trials of new drugs. These include early trials as well as those which are further on in development and being compared to standard treatments for effectiveness.

The centre was constructed by the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and equipped by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

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Its specialist staff are funded through Newcastle University, the NHS Trust, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Support for the foundation is as strong as ever and with the help of patrons from the North East and Suffolk, the future is bright.

Although it is based at Newcastle and patients in that region are the first to benefit from new treatments being developed thanks to the centre, research being undertaken there is benefiting patients across the country.

While the fund’s figurehead is no longer alive, Sir Bobby’s family quickly took up the mantle. His widow, Lady Elsie Robson, and their three sons, Paul, Andrew and Mark, are all equally committed to its success.

At the time of his death the fund had raised �1.6 million – so a further �800,000 has been raised in his memory.

Prof Ruth Plummer, director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, said: “Sir Bobby always said he would like the research centre to be his lasting legacy.”

Former Ipswich Town captain Mick Mills is now the Suffolk Ambassador the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a role which he said he was proud to accept.

“The biggest amount of money being raised for the foundation has been in the north-east, but by far the second biggest area is Suffolk. The Foundation wanted someone to raise the profile of the appeal here in Suffok, and my name came forward. There are lots of events being planned locally to raise money for the foundation in the next year or so.’’

n Mills: My Memories of Sir Bobby – see four-page interview in tonight’s Green’Un

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