Swann adds backing to Sir Bobby’s charity auction

ONE of the world’s leading cricketers has added his backing to a charity auction and ball being organised in memory of Sir Bobby Robson.

England off spinner Graeme Swann, a lifelong Newcastle United fan, had no hesitation in supporting the events after he was approached to do so.

Swann met ex-Ipswich Town boss Robson, who hailed from the north east and was manager of Newcastle United towards the end of his illustrious career in football, shortly before he died in July 2009 following a long battle with cancer.

Currently the No.1 ranked spin bowler in the world, Swann is the latest high-profile personality to donate towards the auction prizes, with support coming from David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger among others.

Swann will be donating a pair of tickets, with VIP hospitality, for the Friday and Saturday of the First Test between England and West Indies at Lord’s next summer. He will also be donating a signed England shirt which he will get autographed by the England team that plays in the match.

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The ball and auction aim to raise �250,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and cancer charity Suffolk Breakthrough.

Swann said he had heard about the Foundation, but didn’t know too much about it until he received an email from Gina Long, the founder of the auction and ball, which is set to be the biggest charity night ever in Suffolk.

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Although he was born in Northampton, Swann’s family are from Blyth in the north east and are proud Geordies.

The 32-year-old, who has played more than 100 times for his country, said: “She had heard I was a Newcastle fan and would I consider helping out. Sir Bobby Robson is an absolute legend, so I was more than happy to do so.

“Anyone who saw the television programme he did with Gary Lineker, when Sir Bobby took him behind-the-scenes at Newcastle United, and also reading his book which talks about his pride in the North East could see the passion and pride he had.

“He was one of the nicest blokes going. Sir Bobby was so dignified and humble. He had great qualities which so many people lack not just in football but in other walks of life.

“I only met him once, which sadly was just before he passed away, when Newcastle played Middlesbrough and both teams were trying to cling on to their Premier League status.

“He was sat in the directors’ box a couple of places along from me and it was a thrill for me to meet him, although it was sad to see one of your heroes in such a frail state as he was by then.”

Even though Sir Bobby was a big cricket fan and used to follow the fortunes of the England team, Swann said: “We spoke more about Newcastle than anything else and whether they could stay up or not and we both came to the same conclusion that we could.”

Although Newcastle beat Middlesbrough 3-1 that night, defeat at home to Fulham followed by another loss, this time at Aston Villa on the final day of the season, saw Newcastle’s 16-year stay in the top flight come to an end.

More than 120 prizes have been donated for the auction which goes live online on Saturday, and is being followed in more than 70 countries. The glittering fund raising ball is taking place at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday, October 20.

For more information and to see the prizes on offer go to www.sirbobbysbreakthroughauction.com and follow on twitter http://twitter.com/sirbobbyauction

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