Five years after his death, Sir Bobby Robson Foundation hits £7.3m milestone

Lady Elsie Robson.
Lady Elsie Robson.

Five years since the death of former England and Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson it has been revealed the charity set up in his name has raised more than £7m.

The former County Durham pitman enjoyed an incredible career as a footballer and manager with his influence on the game being seen around the world, helping to build up careers.

During his last 18 months, as he was receiving treatment for cancer for the fifth time, Sir Bobby was focused on a new goal away from a football pitch.

In March 2008, after a request for help from his oncologist, Professor Ruth Plummer, he launched a cancer charity that he said he hoped would become his legacy – the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

His wife, Lady Elsie, and three sons Paul, Andrew and Mark, are committed to continuing the work he began and it has now raised £7.3m to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

Lady Elsie has been reflecting on the last five years and the importance of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to other people facing the pain caused by cancer.

She said: “It was difficult, very difficult for us all, for the family especially, and I suppose you just get through it.

“You don’t sort of understand until much, much later what it all meant.

“The public responded in such a compassionate way and I think it was something they needed as well at that time.

“It was wonderful to go and see the spread of flowers and tributes and memorabilia left at St James’ Park and, I think I’ve said this before, for 11 days at that time it didn’t rain, which is unusual in Newcastle, even in August.

“We learned a long time ago to share him in life and we sort of shared him in death as well. That was something which was part of it all and you deal with it.

Sir Bobby had a great passion for his charity, which he called his “last and greatest team.”

Lady Elsie: “That was a great thing for Bob, that he had the charity. It gave him a function and a goal to lead his life in that way.

“He was very, very committed to the charity.

“In fact, I think he was more committed to it than he had ever been, or he felt he was achieving more in a helpful way than he had been as a famous person in his own profession.

“The charity has helped enormously. It’s given us a combined thing as a family to aim for. It’s proved over and over again the respect he was given, for the work he did.

“I think that has come over to us all in a very strong way. Quite unbelievable what we’ve raised in that short time.”

She added: “We’ve achieved more than we ever expected.

“He was hesitant in the beginning about whether we’d raise the initial half a million we needed to help Professor Plummer and some of his friends said ‘yes, yes, yes, of course we will’ but he had his own doubts.

“Now, he would be astonished to know what we’ve achieved and what we’ve done with the money.

“He was always a fighter, right throughout his life. He always wanted to achieve. That never left him and with the charity that was very much the case.

“He wanted to fight on. He had an aim in life and that carried him through really. I suppose it gave him less time to focus on his own illness.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is going from strength to strength and last year was its biggest fundraising year to date.

To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk