Last night (3 Dec), one of our Foundation’s most dedicated fundraisers was recognised with a prestigious award from the North East Charity Awards. This year, announced via social media.

Keith celebrating with his award at home

Keith Farquharson, from Heaton in Newcastle, was honoured to receive the Charity Champion of the Year trophy, which is given to volunteers who have shown great commitment for their chosen charity.

Earlier this year, despite having stage 4 bowel cancer, Keith completed all 2,082 miles of the Tour de France 2018 at his home, where he was shielding due to COVID-19 with his wife, Amber, and seven-year-old son, Caspian.

He did this by converting his road bike to a static bike with a turbo trainer and using a special simulator to replicate the many hills and mountains of the Tour de France route. In the process, the 46-year-old software developer, raised more than £6,000 for our Foundation.

Keith says: “Given how I raised this money it seems very fitting to receive the award at home. I’m touched and honoured by it and very proud.

“Although I rode alone on a bike in my kitchen, it was not a solitary journey. There are a great many people who have supported me over the last few years and I’d like to say thanks to them.

“Thank you to all my family and friends who have helped and backed me throughout the ride, shielding, and throughout the last few difficult years. I am eternally grateful. And to everyone who offered words of encouragement along the way. It was always appreciated.”

Lady Elsie, Keith, Caspian and Amber at the end of the ride

Diagnosed in May 2017, after six months of chemotherapy, Keith was told that half of the people with his prognosis would die within twelve months.

After exhausting the standard treatment available, he was offered a trial of a new drug at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, which began in February 2018. Keith credits the drug with keeping him alive for the last two and half years.

Keith continues: “The fact I’m still alive at this point is due in no small part to quite a large supporting cast within the NHS, from diagnosis to treatment and onwards. I continue to walk through the doors of the Sir Bobby Robson Centre every fortnight thanks to those doctors, nurses and support staff.

“Finally, no thank you could possibly be complete without perhaps the most important ‘without whom’ of all.

“Thank you to Sir Bobby Robson, Lady Elsie and the whole Robson family. Because without the Foundation, surviving the last three years, never mind riding 2,000 miles, would have been extremely unlikely.”

Lady Elsie, who phoned Keith to congratulate him, adds: “What wonderful news this is. We’re all extremely proud of Keith. His commitment to raising funds to help us continue our work is amazing.

“I’m very glad he’s received this award. He fully deserves the recognition and our thanks to the North East Charity Awards for organising the event.”

The 6th annual North East Charity Awards, organised by ChronicleLive and TeessideLive and sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, paid tribute to some of the amazing charities and social enterprises in the North East.

The event is described as a chance to celebrate the charities, individuals and businesses who make up the region’s fantastic voluntary sector. We hope all our supporters will join us in celebrating with Keith.