The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has been named as Durham County Cricket Club’s Stephen Harmison’s Benefit charity for 2013.
The Stephen Harmison Benefit Committee made the announcement last night (24th January 2013) at an upbeat launch event in Newcastle attended by Stephen’s family and friends, his Durham CCC team mates and coach Geoff Cook and Sir Bobby Robson’s three sons Paul, Andrew and Mark.
Former international cricketers Michael Vaughan, Phil Tufnel and Andrew Flintoff and Newcastle United’s John Carver and Steve Harper also came out to show their support.
Former world number one bowler, Harmison, who has two Ashes wins and two County Championship titles to his name, was named as 2013 beneficiary by his county, Durham toward the end of last year.
Events will be held over the coming twelve months to raise funds, with a percentage of the overall total donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Martin Filson, Chairman of the Harmy611 Benefit Committee, said: “We thought very carefully about which charity to support but it became obvious very quickly where we would focus our donation.
“Sir Bobby Robson had a real impact on Stephen as a youngster and the generosity he showed helped propel Stephen to the peak of his international career. Stephen was very keen that we used the benefit year as an opportunity to reciprocate the kindness of Sir Bobby by supporting the charity he was so passionate about.
“We have a fantastic calendar of events planned this year which will give us a great opportunity to help raise awareness of the charity as well as raising some funds to help contribute to the great work that they do.”
Describing Stephen’s decision to raise funds for the Foundation in his testimonial year, Lady Elsie Robson said: “It’s always special for me, and I know it was for Bob, when one of my husband’s former players comes to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation with an idea to help raise funds. Although Stephen was never actually a Newcastle United player I think Bob would think of him in that light given how much time he spent at the club.
“I’m grateful that Stephen has chosen to support our work in his benefit year. Sadly, too many people experience the pain caused by cancer and we are doing all we can to help the experts find better ways to detect and treat the disease.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.
Last year, Lady Elsie officially opened the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit, which was jointly funded by the charity and Newcastle University. The charity also announced it was contributing £850,000 towards life-saving new cyber surgery equipment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Both of these major advances in treatment and tumour detection for cancer patients will work in tandem with the clinical trials of new drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Stephen’s friend and former England team mate, Andrew Flintoff, said: “He really deserves this year. Benefits are awarded to players who show loyalty and Steve’s probably the most loyal person I’ve ever met.
“He’s shown great commitment to Durham Cricket Club and this benefit year is their way of saying thank you. It’s a big year for Stephen and he should be proud he’s got one.
“He has the County running through his veins and he loves it and I think you’ll find that throughout the year there’ll be far bigger and more important people than me turning out to support him.
“There’s a lot of goodwill out there towards Stephen because of what he showed to other people. I think this year’s a way for other people to give back.”
For more information on Stephen Harmison’s Benefit Year visit www.harmy611benefit.co.uk or follow @harmy611benefit on Twitter.