Sir Bobby’s thoughts at the opening of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, on this day, 10 years ago:
“This is a particularly proud day for everyone involved in the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. And by that I don’t just mean myself, my wife Lady Elsie and the charity committee and Centre staff.
“Every single person who has made a donation to the Foundation, sponsored a friend or workmate or organised a fundraising event should be very proud too. This new Centre is our first major achievement together and it will make a huge difference to the experts who are working hard to find new treatments for cancer.
“And because of the wonderful ongoing efforts being made on behalf of my charity I’m pleased to announce that we’ve also been able to use £300,000 to fund two very important research posts here too – a doctor and a nurse. Both are training roles and a sound investment in the future of cancer research.
“But we don’t want to rest on our laurels today. This is a wonderful new facility but the patients who come through its doors are at the very frontline in the fight against cancer. The best way we can continue to help them is to keep pulling together as a team.
“We’ve had a lot of people, Joe Public, who have sent me fivers and tenners.
“We once got a cheque for £1,000 from someone I don’t know. So, they have all contributed to this new centre.
“I’m very grateful to everybody who has put money into my Foundation. I’d like to thank you all for your generosity, for your kindness, for your thoughtfulness.
“The word I like to use is ‘faithfulness.’ Because you’ve been very faithful, not just to me, I’m not egotistical, but to the Foundation and what it stands for.
“By that commitment, you’ve given us the chance to provide a wonderful state-of-the-art facility here in the North East. One of the best in Europe. Isn’t that a fantastic achievement for the people of the North East?
“Ruth (Professor Ruth Plummer), my wife and I are trustees of this Foundation and we will make sure that we don’t waste one penny of your money.
“Now I wasn’t really going to say much more, but there’s a certain guy who should be here today and he’s very unwell and couldn’t make it.
“He’s a guy who first wrote to me when we launched our Foundation. His name is Johnny Bliss. And it’s a fantastic name because that’s what he is. He’s bliss.
“He wrote to me to tell me that he had cancer and had three months to live. That was seven months ago. He had raised some money, £8,500. And what he said was, he’d like to meet me to have a photograph for the mantelpiece of the two of us together.
“We met at the Copthorne Hotel and he arrived with his wife Sheila, who’s here today representing Johnny. And Johnny brought all his family. And they were all dressed in their best suits and best shirts and ties. They made me look a tramp actually. And Johnny was, as they say in Liverpool, made up, over-the-moon.
“Unfortunately, he’s not very well. I’m sorry he’s not here. Like I said, he was given three months to live, seven months ago. So, what a fighter. He can play in my team I tell you.
“Sheila’s here and I know she’ll take back to Johnny my best regards and I wish him all the luck in the world.
“So, ladies and gentlemen, with no further ado, it gives me great pleasure to officially declare the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre well and truly open. And I wish it much progress and every success. And I wish the staff and the Foundation all the luck in the world.”