Whether she’s Mum or Mam, mothers are very special, which is why today can be difficult for anyone missing theirs.
Bobby, Paul, Elsie and Andrew Robson
Lady Elsie is 86-years-old and still misses her Mam, Eva. As she says, “You never stop missing them.”
We all know Lady Elsie as Sir Bobby’s wife and a hard-working representative of our Foundation. She’s also a mother of three and grandmother of four and has had a fascinating life and, as it’s Mother’s Day, we thought you might like to find out a bit more about her!
Elsie was born in the County Durham mining village of Langley Park in 1934. Her father was a miner, one of nine children, and worked underground until arthritis prevented him from doing so.
She had a sister, Vera, and a brother, Arthur, and unusually for the time, both sisters were encouraged to get a good education.
Young Elsie Gray
Aged 16, she began work at Sunderland Royal Infirmary and began her nursing qualifications just as soon as she was able. In the same year, she met 17-year-old Robert Robson, as she remembers it, “Just round and about on the streets of the village.”
The pair courted from a distance, with Bobby on the books of Fulham FC and Elsie completing her nursing qualifications in Sunderland.
Then, aged 21, Elsie married Bobby at St Michael’s Church, Esh. The young couple first lived in a flat in Fulham and Elsie worked at Westminster Hospital as a staff nurse.
Two years later, when they’d moved to West Bromwich where Bobby was playing for West Bromwich Albion, the first of their three children, Paul, was born.
Sons, Andrew and Mark followed and, during Bobby’s early career, the family moved around the country and spent six months in Vancouver.
Bobby and Elsie’s wedding
Elsie gave up nursing when she became a mother and had been a nurse for the best part of a decade, but it’s not the only career she’s had.
It was during Bobby’s hugely successful time as manager of Ipswich Town, that she decided to embark on something new.
For two years she travelled to Clacton-on-Sea for training then began her new career as a teacher, working at Chantry Infants School, St Mark’s RC School and the Thomas Wolsley School, which are all in Ipswich.
Then, after a fulfilling decade in teaching, Elsie changed tack professionally once more.
She’d heard about a shop in Ipswich coming up for rent and decided to try her hand at running a ladies’ clothes shop, which she called Zeta Robson – Zeta being one of her middle names.
She ran the shop for six years before Bobby’s career in management took the Robsons abroad, to Eindhoven, Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona.
Throughout her married life, Lady Elsie moved house a total of 27 times, which is why she says she has no intention of leaving her County Durham home now.
In 2002, Bobby was made a Knight Bachelor, becoming Sir Bobby, and Elsie officially became Lady Robson, although to us she is affectionately known as Lady Elsie.
Paul, Bobby, Mark, Elsie, Andrew and Pip the dog
In 2008, when Sir Bobby was receiving treatment for cancer following a fifth cancer diagnosis, the couple were asked for help with fundraising to equip what became the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle.
Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie decided to try to raise the money required by launching the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Since then, Lady Elsie has missed only a couple of charity meetings, and only when prevented from attending due to reasons of health.
Lady Elsie, Sir Bobby, Prof Hilary Calvert, Prof Ruth Plummer
In addition to her three sons, she now has three granddaughters and a grandson.
With granddaughters Lucy, Isabelle and Olivia
Son, Andrew Robson, says: “Of our two parents, it’s natural that people should think of my Dad. He achieved so much in his life and is so fondly remembered. I don’t think people know how much Mum has achieved in her own right though.
“Like Dad, she came from a mining village and background and went on to live all over the world. But she also worked hard to become a nurse, a teacher and a business owner, as well as looking after us three boys.
“And from day one, she’s been crucial to the success of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Andrew and his Mum
“After Dad died, it took real strength of character to become such a public figure for the charity and we know how much the work funded means to her.
“She’s a wonderful Mum and Grandma and we’re all very proud of her.”
To everyone lucky enough to have a mother, or to remember a mother, and to all the Mums and Mams out there, Happy Mother’s Day.