Sir Bobby Robson Foundation launch

Today (Sunday, 25th March) not only marks the fourth anniversary of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, it is also the day the charity is announcing it has broken through the £4 million fund-raising barrier.

It is a spectacular achievement for the charity Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched in 2008 to raise an initial target of £500,000. That money was required to equip a cancer trials research centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital and, incredibly, was achieved in just seven weeks.

Thanks to wonderful ongoing support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has now raised £4,095,264 to find more effective treatments for cancer and is contributing significantly to the coordinated, international research into the disease.

Professor Ruth Plummer, Sir Bobby's oncologist and director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, sees the benefits of the work funded through the Foundation every day.

It was Professor Plummer's request for help which prompted Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie to set up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and she believes its ongoing success is the greatest tribute that could ever be paid to him.

Professor Plummer said "Sir Bobby was absolutely committed to this charity. He said he'd give up a year to help us but he actually remained passionately involved for the last 18 months of his life despite being extremely ill.

"The way people continue to help us is amazing. It's an incredible and very worthy tribute to Sir Bobby and an acknowledgement of just how many people are affected by cancer one way or another.

"Four years ago we had no idea what we could achieve through this charity. It's amazing to look back on what has already been funded and see the difference it is making to people with cancer.

"Looking to the future, we're currently exploring a number of exciting possibilities which will enhance the services and equipment we've already invested in. We're just so grateful that the support for the charity allows us to have this long term view."

Fittingly, staff from House of Fraser at the MetroCentre have organised a celebration ball at the Copthorne Hotel tonight. Coinciding with the Foundation's anniversary, and at the same venue where Sir Bobby launched the charity, it is sure to be a moving occasion.

Helen Jennings, from Denton Burn, said: "Staff at House of Fraser voted to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation this year and this ball is just one of the events and activities we're undertaking.

"Most of our staff have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer so this charity was a very popular choice. Sadly in my department alone we've lost two colleagues to the disease and you want to feel like you're doing something to help.

"We're not finished yet and have raised around £2,000 already. Everyone across the whole store is pitching in.

"Holding our celebration ball on the fourth anniversary of the Foundation makes it even more special and we're very grateful to everyone who has supported the event with prizes and bought tickets. We hope Sir Bobby would be pleased we're supporting the work of his charity four years after he began it."

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria - including the clinical trials of drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle - and which contribute significantly to the international fight against the disease.

Since its launch, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has equipped the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre and funded a specialist clinical research nurse and research doctor within it.

More than 1,000 patients have been treated on clinical trials since the Sir Bobby Centre opened in February 2009 and an additional 1,000 patients have been enrolled in other research studies, studying the biology and genetics of cancer to help develop and improve treatments.

There has been a year on year increase in the number of clinical trials open, currently 93, and staffing in the Centre has risen from 27 when it opened in 2009 to 40 today. Further developments are planned which will involve still further expansion of the team.

Newcastle's Experimental Medicine Cancer Centre (ECMC), which includes the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, was recently identified as one of highest scoring ECMCs in the UK, placed in the top tier alongside other centres at UCL, Royal Marsden, Oxford and Cambridge.

Thanks to fantastic ongoing support, the Foundation has also funded leukaemia laboratory research equipment and contributed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary's teenage cancer unit in Newcastle.

It has enhanced a specialist children's waiting area, jointly funded a patient 'quiet and information area' with help from Macmillan Cancer Support and part funded a complementary therapy programme providing symptom relief for cancer patients - all at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

The charity is also working with Newcastle University and has purchased an ultra-compact ABT Molecular Imaging Biomarker Generator, which will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The Biomarker Generator was purchased through a record contribution of £625,000 from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe. It is expected to go into operation this summer (2012).

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation's medical trustees are always looking for the next breakthrough, the next promising investment into cancer equipment or training and always looking to fulfil Sir Bobby's ambition to help other people facing the hard fight against cancer.

It is supported in that aim by committed Patrons including Alan Shearer, Niall Quinn, Steve Gibson, Delia Smith and Mick Mills.

To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information please visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk or donate by sending a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN.