A North East businessman who faced a shock cancer diagnosis last year is fundraising to thank the Newcastle Hospitals team who saved his life.

Lee Perkins, 49, and his friend Neil Sullivan, are driving a ‘banger’ car from Newcastle to Barcelona – almost 2,000 miles and via immense mountain passes in the Swiss Alps – to support our Foundation.

Lee set off from Newcastle United’s St James’ Park today (29th June) and is hoping to arrive at the Nou Camp, home of Barcelona FC, on 4th July. Sir Bobby managed both clubs and Newcastle fans have fond memories of exciting Champions League nights against the Spanish club.

For Lee, the fundraising is a way to celebrate the amazing care the NHS provides in this region, as well as saying a big thank you for his care and treatment within the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and from the Freeman Hospital’s Urology team.

He describes the moment he was told he had cancer as, “decisive, the sort of memory that will never leave” and explains how he found himself in the care of Newcastle Hospitals.

Lee says: “Last August I went out for a walk and felt absolutely fine but, when I came home, I went to the toilet and was shocked to see a lot of blood. I felt really terrible after that and after a couple of hours I was unable to move and needed an ambulance.

“I was subsequently diagnosed with a tumour in my right kidney and was told the safest thing they could do would be to remove the whole kidney. It all came completely out of the blue and I know I’ve been very lucky that the cancer was discovered early. That operation at the Freeman Hospital in October saved my life.”

Originally from Bicester, Oxfordshire, Lee moved to the North East in 2011 and now lives in Matfen. Chief Commercial Officer at Advanced, one of the UK’s largest software and services providers, Lee was formerly Chief Operating Officer at Sage and is chair of the North East Council of the CBI.

Lee continues: “We’re very fortunate to have such brilliant hospitals here in the North East. The way they looked after my family and I was just amazing. I was determined to do something to say thank you for the treatment I received within Newcastle Hospitals as soon as I was able to, and by fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, I knew I was doing something that would directly benefit people in our region.

“I had such a warm welcome when I first moved here and it feels like my family and I have been adopted by the North East. And, as I’m from a sporting background, I’ve always admired Sir Bobby, so supporting the work of his charity seemed like a very natural choice.

“Neil suggested we drive a banger to Barcelona because it was great way for us to do something positive to raise awareness, fundraise for this incredibly important cause, and spend some time together making some fun memories too.

“We only have three kidneys between us so we called our small team The Three Kidneys and we’ve been really touched by the support we’ve already received. My girls, and so many friends, colleagues and North East businesses have donated and will be cheering us on.”

Newcastle Hospitals Charity Director, Teri Bayliss, and Charlie Woods, a long-time supporter of our Foundation, came along to see Lee off from St James’ Park.

Charlie was a great friend of Sir Bobby’s and worked closely with him for many years. He wished Lee all the best with what he described as a “heck of a long drive” and explained his own connection with Barcelona. As a Newcastle player, Charlie played against the club at St James’ Park in a friendly match. It was his debut for Newcastle, in 1960, and he came off the bench to score with the game finishing 3 – 4.

Amazingly, Lee has already raised over £40,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Northern Centre for Cancer Care. To follow his journey, or sponsor his efforts, please visit: