Amazingly, just eight years later, thanks to unwavering support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has broken through the £10million fundraising barrier – and is today (2 September) announcing its largest contribution to any cancer project to date.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is contributing almost £1million (£999,161) to fund four clinical research and nursing posts at The Newcastle University Centre for Childhood Cancer, which will open soon.
The new centre will focus on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatment for children with advanced cancer, or for those whose illness has come back. It will also improve access to new cancer drugs for children and young people in the North East and Cumbria.
Approximately 1,600 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK. Despite the significant advances that have been made, cancer remains one of the main reasons why children under the age of 15 die prematurely.
The majority of childhood cancer survivors (2 in 3) have one chronic health problem related to their cancer treatment, and 1 in 3 have several chronic health problems or life-changing late effects to the treatment. Improving current therapies is therefore vital.
Professor Ruth Plummer is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is Clinical Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at Newcastle University’s Northern Institute for Cancer Research.
She is also director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and was Sir Bobby’s oncologist.
Professor Plummer says: “Sir Bobby launched his Foundation to raise money to equip an early phase drug trials unit for adult patients, what became the Sir Bobby Robson Centre.
“I think he’d be incredibly proud to know we have contributed so significantly into improving the lives of children with cancer, too.
“It seems particularly cruel when children and young people are affected but, as we all know, cancer has no boundaries.
“Enormous progress has already been made in treating younger cancer patients and this new centre will continue that important work.
“Funding these new posts is a natural extension of the work the Foundation already supports.
“We have an established clinical trials team for adults and we’re building on that expertise and expanding to create a ‘matching’ team for children.”
The £10million raised for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is all the more remarkable because it does not employ professional fund-raisers to pro-actively raise money and relies completely on third party, volunteer fund-raisers and the incredible generosity of the general public. An achievement Lady Elsie describes as “absolutely unbelievable.”
Donations totalling £2million have been made to the Foundation by Newcastle Building Society, thanks to the great popularity of its charity-linked saving accounts.
And an enormous £8million has been raised through dress down Fridays, concerts, sponsored bike rides, bake sales, head shaves and much, much more.
The majority of funds donated are relatively small amounts and it is the sheer volume of them that enables the Foundation to continue its work.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is intrinsically linked, and is a fund within, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity. The substantial support it receives from this local NHS charity means it can significantly limit administrative costs.
The Foundation funds projects that directly benefit patients from across the North East and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to international research into cancer.