Surgeon's tribute to his great friend

REMEMBERING a friendship spanning 14 years, the Ipswich surgeon who treated Sir Bobby said today it had been “a great privilege” to have been his friend.

REMEMBERING a friendship spanning 14 years, the Ipswich surgeon who treated Sir Bobby said today it had been “a great privilege” to have been his friend.

Huw Davies, an expert in oral and maxillofacial surgery, first met the former Ipswich and England manager, in 1995 when he was referred to him as a patient, treating him for a malignant melanoma growing behind his eye.

The Ipswich Hospital consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who Sir Bobby credited with saving his life, said as a patient he would remember him as “very positive and very brave.”

He said: “He was so enthusiastic, so enthusiastic about the outcome. And later up until the time of his death he was very keen to help other people in similar situations to his own, he was very unselfish, it is human nature when you are ill to be concerned just about yourself but he wasn't.

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“He has done such a lot to raise funds for this hospital and for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

Just a month ago Mr Davies flew up to Newcastle to spend some time with Sir Bobby, knowing he had just weeks to live.

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He said: “Even considering how poorly he was he still wanted me to see all he had achieved up there.

“I was to push him around in his wheel chair and wearing his black trilby.

“Wherever you go in Newcastle, like in Ipswich, everybody wanted to stop and speak to him.

“It is a very impressive centre, the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, he raised the money himself and it will serve a huge number of patients from northern England right down to London.”

As a friend Mr Davies, a proud Welshman, said he would remember his “charismatic” character and his passion for football.

He said: “He had this ability to sweep you along with his enthusiasm. His job was his life it was everything and he was extremely patriotic, for an Englishman.

“His wife would say if he had an afternoon off he would want to see a game of football, whether it just be on the village green, football was his passion.”

He recalled a time when he and his wife, Helen took their three children out to see Sir Bobby in Barcelona.

He said: “We arrived in the morning, my kids were young at the time and all they wanted to do was play football with Sir Bobby on the beach.

“He had flown in from a game and had about two hours sleep. I said to him when he was playing with them, he must have been really looking forward to playing with them and he replied with 'yes because usually I only practice with Ronaldo'.

“He had a terrific sense of humour.”

For a man who lived his life in the public spotlight he had a “knack to make you feel you knew him.”

Mr Davies said: “He never forgot a thing. Even if you hadn't seen him for a while he would always remember people's names and ask them about their lives. And he was exactly the same in his private life. I just looked forward to seeing him.”

Mr Davies added: “There is always a risk with a high profile patient you will see him in a different light to other patients, but he was not like that.

“He has a huge legacy around Ipswich and he will certainly be remembered.

“It was a privilege to have known him.”

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