For nearly two decades, football fans from in and around Chester-le-Street have been raising money for local charities with their annual trip to Chester Races.

Known as Sid’s Tours, what began as a ‘stag do’ for 36 football fans back in 2001 has now grown to a group of around 200 and has gone on to raise an enormous £75,000 for good causes.

For the last three years, Sid’s Tours, organised by Kevin and Alison Atkinson from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, have been fundraising for our Foundation.

During 2018, they raised an amazing £6,138 (a total of £15,992 raised over three years) and Lady Elsie was proud to meet up with the group to receive the cheque at Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light on Saturday (2 February).

The charity fundraising first began when Kevin, the co-founder of the Chester-le-Street and District SAFC Supporters’ Association, started putting on events to help both the club and local charities*.

Kevin handed the Supporters’ Club side of things over to other branch members some years ago and the group, which became Sid’s Tours, is now solely committed to fundraising and includes fans of other football clubs, too.

Kevin says: “When we decided we should pass the reigns of the Supporters’ Club on to some of the other members we didn’t want to stop the fundraising we’re all so passionate about.

“We enjoy coming together as a group and are proud to have done some real good over the years. And we’ve enjoyed some fantastic trips away, too.”

Last year’s fundraising included what has become a tradition for Sid’s Tours – a trip to Chester Races with a night out in Liverpool, followed by an afternoon of entertainment – comedy, karaoke and popular Yorkshire band, Here’s Johnny – at Wakefield’s Westgate Common Club.

This year, once again, there was also a special event at Sacriston Workmen’s Club with North East rock music favourites, Alexander’s Palace.

Kevin adds: “Fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is important to us because the charity is helping people from all across this region and we all know someone affected by cancer.

“Lady Elsie’s been very supportive and has been out to Sacriston club a couple of times to meet with us and say thanks. I know she’s a regular visitor to the Stadium of Light and it’s great to see her here today and to be able to hand over the cheque for last year’s efforts in person.”

Lady Elsie says: “I always enjoy my visits to the Stadium of Light and Bob did, too. Every weekend, he was either here, or Middlesbrough or St James’ Park. Wherever there was football to watch, he’d be there!

“Today’s been especially nice because I’ve been able to say thanks to Kevin, Alison, all the group once again for their generosity and commitment to raising money for us.

“We’re very grateful and every penny will help us find better ways to detect and treat this terrible disease.”