Cyclists preparing to raise funds for Sir Bobby Robson

A group of 21 friends is attempting their third coast-to-coast cycle ride in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and is hoping they can break through the £15,000 fundraising mark for the cancer charity.

Setting off from Gateshead's Millennium Bridge on Thursday, rather than the traditional starting point at the coast, the group are adding additional miles en route and will stay near Alston on their first night having completed the first 66 miles of the cycle route.

Their annual cycle ride takes three days to complete so the group have named it Three Days for Bobby. It began in tribute to Sir Bobby and has now become an annual tradition and an opportunity for the group to raise money to help fight cancer.

Stephen Haye, a 26-year-old Northumbrian Water employee from Burnopfield, explained: "We began this cycle ride when Sir Bobby died. The way his death affected us all caught us off guard and we wanted to do something in tribute to him and it's become an annual event for us now.

"One way or another everyone in our group has been, or will be, affected by cancer and we want to do our bit for Sir Bobby's cancer charity.

"We've already raised a total of £11,500 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation through Three Days for Bobby and with this year's sponsorship we're hoping to break through the £15,000 mark. If we could do that then all the tired legs and sore backsides will be well worthwhile."

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise £4,095,264 to help find more effective treatments for cancer.

It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.

Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: "It was a pleasure to see the Three Days for Bobby group off from the Millennium Bridge. They all looked quite sprightly at that point but I'd imagine this heat will prove a big challenge for them all.

"The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation relies completely on volunteer fund-raisers and donations and we're very grateful to all of the Three Days for Bobby cyclists and their generous sponsors. The money raised will be spent helping find more effective treatments for cancer and will directly benefit patients in our region."

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.