Sir Bobby Robson with Jim Rosenthal, Bob Wilson, Dr Ruth PluToday (25 March 2014) is the 6th anniversary of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and, to mark the occasion, the charity has announced it has broken through the £7million barrier after its biggest year of fundraising to date.

The total raised for the cancer charity Sir Bobby launched in 2008 now stands at £7,028,352 (previously ‘over £5.8million’), an achievement Lady Elsie describes as “a fantastic team effort.”

The Foundation, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer, directly benefits cancer patients from across the North East and Cumbria and is playing its part within wider, international research into the disease.

Lady Elsie says: “To have raised this much, well it’s breathtaking really. We’ve had such tremendous support from so many people. I know Bob would be as amazed as I am.

“As a fund within a hospital’s charity, we rely completely on the general public to raise money for us.

“The generosity we’ve encountered over the last six years, and I mean generosity of time and effort, not just money, has been incredible.

“It’s a privilege to meet with fundraisers and to hear the trouble they’ve gone to. So often they have a personal reason to want to support a cancer charity. It means a lot to me to see their pride when we talk about the work we’ve funded through the Foundation thanks to their help.

“It really is a fantastic team effort and we’re very grateful to everyone who has contributed.”

Last year was very special for everyone involved with the charity with major events like Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration at The Sage, Gateshead (February), Stephen Harmison’s Benefit Year, Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction (October), the FA’s Sir Bobby Robson National Football Day (August) and Steve Harper’s Charity Match at St James’ Park (September).

Newcastle Building Society’s popular charity-linked Sir Bobby Robson Foundation ISA and Saver accounts have also made a significant contribution by raising over £700,000 since their introduction in 2012.

There were tremendous individual efforts too with Tony ‘the Fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison running the length of the country carrying a 42kg fridge (August-September), Paul Smith running 65 miles between the North East’s football league clubs in the depths of winter (December) and Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison completing a coast to coast run across Australia in severely challenging running conditions (October-January).

As ever though, it is the sheer volume of relatively small donations and community fundraising events and activities which have brought in the majority of the £1,683,897 raised over the last year – the Great North Runners, dress down Fridays, social club concerts, sponsored swims, coffee mornings and cake bakes. What Sir Bobby described as “the heart of the charity.”

Thanks to all that fundraising, the Foundation continues to fund cutting edge new cancer treatment and helps support the clinical trials of new cancer drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.

It has been five years since Sir Bobby officially opened the cancer trials centre which shares his name (it opened in February 2009) and in that time more than 3000 patients have been recruited into clinical trials. The centre has started trials with four completely new classes of anticancer drugs as well as being involved in studies leading to the licensing of five drugs, which are now widely available for cancer patients

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is fortunate to have the support of dedicated Patrons within the North East, Suffolk and Norfolk and they all reacted with customary enthusiasm on hearing the new fundraising total.

Delia Smith, joint majority shareholder in Norwich City FC, says: “I’m thrilled to hear the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is going from strength-to-strength

“Sir Bobby’s legacy in football is unquestionable but the legacy he’s left us though his cancer charity is on a different level again.

“Anyone who has experienced the pain caused by cancer, and sadly it’s a disease which will affect most of us one way or another, will understand the importance of hope.

“The Foundation’s work is helping create that hope for patients on new cancer drug trials, and for us all by pushing for the future where effective cancer treatment and the possibility of a cure becomes a reality.

“As a Patron of the charity, I’d to thank everyone who has contributed by fundraising or making a donation and I wish it every success for the future.”

Sir Bobby’s Ipswich Town Captain, Mick Mills, says: “It’s absolutely amazing to have raised this much. When you think about where it started, where it’s gone on to and where it could go to in the future.

“I think it took everyone by surprise but, as the years go by, I’m less and less surprised by how Sir Bobby’s name continues to keep bringing us together.

“And really it is his name, what he did and what he meant to people, that’s what reaches out to people through the charity.

“He was an inspiring man for people with cancer. Every time, five times, he met it full on. That last time though, that was the most amazing for me.

“He knew he wasn’t going to win but he didn’t disappear. He stayed in the public eye, that’s what gets to me. I don’t think I could do that. He was a brave man. Very, very brave.”

Niall Quinn, Sunderland AFC legend, says: “It’s great news. It’s a staggering new fundraising total and testimony to the great man. He’d be thrilled by how much has been raised.

“Here we are, not just applauding Sir Bobby, but the outstanding people raising all that money for the charity.

“Sir Bob always was good at picking teams and this one is fantastic and growing all the time.”

Steve Gibson, Middlesbrough FC Chairman, says: “The ongoing success of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is something everyone in our region can take pride in.

“The work the charity funds is providing hope for cancer patients in our area and I can think of no better legacy than that for a man like Sir Bobby.

“I’m very proud to be a Patron and I’d like to thank everyone who supports the charity and enables it to fund ground-breaking cancer treatment for the people of the North East.”

Alan Shearer, Newcastle United legend, says: “Sir Bobby began this charity to help other people going through the pain of cancer and he’d be incredibly proud to see how well it’s doing today.

“When you walk through the doors of the Sir Bobby Robson Centre the first thing you see is a picture of the great man on the wall. He said this charity was his legacy and his presence continues to be felt through it. I think everyone who chooses to fundraise feels the same way.

“I was proud when Lady Elsie asked if I’d become a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Not only because it’s Sir Bobby’s charity, but also because the work it helps fund is so important in the fight against cancer.

“It’s a privilege meeting people fundraising for the charity and hearing why they are helping. It’s their drive and enthusiasm which keeps us moving forward.

“To have raised so much money this year is incredible and I know every penny will be put to the best possible use.”

In the last six years, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has been able to:

1. Equip the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC)
2. Fund three-year training posts for a specialist clinical trials nurse and doctor at the NCCC
3. Part-fund five years of the complementary therapy programme at the NCCC
4. Part-fund the creation of a patient Quiet and Information Area at the NCCC
5. Fund a microscope for Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group at the Royal Victoria Infirmary
6. Enhance a dedicated children’s waiting area at the NCCC
7. Contribute to the Teenage Cancer Unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital
8. Jointly fund the PET Tracer Production Unit at Newcastle University
9. Make the majority charitable contribution to ‘stereotactic’ radiotherapy at the NCCC
10. Jointly fund a region-wide cancer patient ambulance
11. Fund an ImagestreamX (ISx), which allows scientists to see circulating cancer cells in blood
12. Fund a Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie’s Newcastle