People still love and respect Sir Bobby 10 years on, his widow says

On the tenth anniversary of the death of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson, his widow said people’s love and respect for him has not diminished.

The work of the cancer-fighting charity he set up in 2008 – the year before he died from a fifth bout of cancer – continues to save lives by funding trials and research.

Sir Bobby intended it to raise £500,000 to equip a cancer drug trials centre in Newcastle and that target was reached in just eight weeks.

Sir Bobby with his oncologist Professor Ruth Plummer in 2008 (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation/PA)

His foundation has now raised £13.5 million, with £12.2 million of that coming in since the hugely-respected football man, who managed clubs around Europe, died at the age of 76.

His widow Lady Elsie said: “We’ve all missed him a great deal and still do. All the family, and his friends of course.

“I’ve found the foundation very helpful in that respect.

“It was something Bob was very passionate about and it’s given us all a focus.

Professor Ruth Plummer and Lady Elsie at the 10th anniversary of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre opening earlier this year (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation/PA)
Professor Ruth Plummer and Lady Elsie at the 10th anniversary of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre opening earlier this year (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation/PA)

“For myself especially, because I really do enjoy all the events and the people I meet through the charity.

“What stands out most to me after 10 years is that the love and respect people have for Bob doesn’t seem to have diminished at all.”

Lady Elsie said Sir Bobby felt like he was managing a football team again after he set up the foundation.

Having reached an age when he could take things easy, she said relaxing “wasn’t really in his nature”.

She said: “Even though he was ill, he was determined to set up this charity and he was extremely proud of it.

“It’s amazed me how much we’ve been able to do through the foundation.

“The support just hasn’t let up and our medical trustees keep us moving forwards and make sure we’re making the right decisions.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who has continued to fundraise for us and to help find better ways to detect and treat cancer.

Sir Bobby Robson with staff from the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust in 2008. (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation/PA)
Sir Bobby Robson with staff from the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust in 2008 (Sir Bobby Robson Foundation/PA)

“Bob would be absolutely amazed at everything we’ve done. He’d want us to keep at it.”

Sir Bobby was approached by his oncologist Professor Ruth Plummer to help fundraise in 2008 and when he presented her with the £500,000 cheque, he said: “I’ve achieved many things during my career in football, won trophies, represented my country, received all kinds of wonderful awards and even been knighted, but I’m as proud of this achievement as I am of any other in my life.”

Within the NHS, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation works in partnership with other leading charities and organisations and funds ground-breaking cancer treatment and innovative patient care and support services.

Sir Bobby Robson at the launch of his foundation, pictured with (left to right) Jim Rosenthal, Bob Wilson Dr Ruth Plummer and Des Lynham (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Sir Bobby Robson at the launch of his foundation, pictured with (left to right) Jim Rosenthal, Bob Wilson, Dr Ruth Plummer and Des Lynham (Owen Humphreys/PA)

At its heart of it is the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

He opened it in 2009 and was one of the first patients, and it puts around 600 people a year through clinical cancer trials, many of whom have no other treatment options.

Patrons of the foundation include Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, Sunderland hero Niall Quinn, ex-goalkeeper Steve Harper, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson, Delia Smith and the former Ipswich Town and England captain Mick Mills.

Sir Bobby was a much-loved figure in football, having played for and managed England, as well as clubs such as Ipswich Town, PSV Eindhoven, Porto, Barcelona and his beloved Newcastle United.

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