For more than a decade, a group of friends from in and around Whickham, Gateshead, have been fundraising for our Foundation with an annual bike ride called Three Days for Bobby.

This year, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the ride seemed impossible and when golf became one of the earliest sporting activities permitted it gave rise to a new fundraising idea and the Three Days for Bobby 24-Hour Golf Challenge was born.

Four of the friends took on the challenge at Whickham Golf Club and Lady Elsie came along to wish them luck as they teed off.

Darren McCaig, Andrew Mitchell, Jamie Robson and Steve Wilkinson (from Sunniside, Whickham, Dunston and Burnopfield, respectively), played a total of six continuous rounds, from noon until noon the next day.

Walking more than 40 kilometres, they played throughout the night using torches and special luminous golf balls after dark.

All four of the golfers successfully completed the challenge, which was even tougher than they expected, raising over £4,000 for our Foundation.

Speaking after the last ball was putted, Darren McCaig said: “We’re all very, very tired. Lots of aches and pains but definitely worth it.

“The luminous golf balls worked well but playing through the night was really draining. You had to concentrate hard on where the ball was and also try not to fall into a bunker.

“Luckily, we’re very familiar with the course, so we were ok with our torches, but you had to go a lot by memory because you don’t know where you’re hitting the ball to.

“By the morning, swinging the club, picking the ball up, putting the tee down, all the normal golf things, became really hard work. It was a totally different experience and certainly the most difficult sporting thing any of us have ever done. We’re very proud to have finished it.”

As Covid-19 restrictions eased, the planned Three Days for Bobby Bike Ride also went ahead, albeit with a smaller number of cyclists than planned and riding in ‘bubbles’ to limit social interaction. As always, it was organised by Stephen Hay from Sunniside.

The group of 20 socially-distanced riders cycled 165 miles from Sir Bobby’s statue at St James’ Park in Newcastle to Seahouses, Rothbury and Hexham before heading home to Whickham.

The bike ride raised over £6,000 and, including the golfing fundraising, this means Three Days for Bobby raised more than £10,000 this year. A great achievement at any time but very special given the difficult circumstances this year.

Lady Elsie was extremely impressed and said: “I think they’ve done awfully well to safely complete both the golf and the bike ride.

“With so much else to consider this year, it would have been understandable if they’d decided to postpone their plans. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who helped and donated.

“I was very pleased to watch the golfers tee off at the start of their challenge. I’ve had a go at playing golf at Whickham myself, not very well I’m afraid, and I know it’s a beautiful course with lots of hills. They were brave to attempt 24 hours around it and I was so proud of them all when I heard they’d finished successfully.”