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Sir Bobby Robson's Legacy for Children with Cancer a decade on from his death

On the tenth anniversary of Sir Bobby Robson’s death, the legacy of the legendary manager lives on for children diagnosed with cancer thanks to a partnership between Newcastle United Foundation and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The charities have been working together for more than two years to provide sporting and educational activities for young cancer patients receiving treatment at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

In 2008, while receiving treatment for the disease himself for a fifth, and what he knew would be the final time, Sir Bobby launched his charity to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

Working 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 hoped the charity would be his legacy and devoted his last months to helping ensure its success.

Sadly, the former Newcastle United manager, adored by football fans across the world, died on July 31, 2009, aged 76.

Today, a decade on from his passing, Newcastle United Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation are continuing to make his final wish a reality by partnering together to deliver a special support project for young cancer patients.

Delivered by Newcastle United Foundation with funding from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the project tailors sports and educational activities for children and teenagers in Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary’s Great North Children’s Hospital. The activity programme also invites siblings and families to join in with their loved one to ensure they are also supported by the vital project.

Since the project’s launch in May 2017, young people and their families from the Great North Children’s Hospital have visited St James’ Park and toured Sunderland AFC and Middlesbrough’s grounds, completed halftime penalty shootouts at the stadium, become mascots for their favourite players, attended Premier Leagues matches and have enjoyed full match day experiences. Dozens of teenagers and children have also completed Newcastle United Foundation’s 5-A-Side, Enterprise and Match Fit healthy living programmes.

James Geddes is just one of the dozens of young people motivated by the initiative after being diagnosed with leukaemia in September 2017. Now in remission, James has gone on to find work through support from Newcastle United Foundation. His story is one of many Sir Bobby has played a part in, as well as Phillip Tosh, from Middlesbrough.

Until January this year, Phillip was a very regular visitor to the Great North Children’s Hospital. During his treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, he was supported within the hospital and enjoyed a ground tour of the Riverside Stadium and a new kit thanks to the Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, through the project.

Now, thankfully, signed off by the hospital, Phillip and his mam, Mel, were very happy to meet up with Sir Bobby’s widow, Lady Elsie, and Gareth Williams of the Newcastle United Foundation to say thanks and explain how helpful the project was during what were difficult days.​

Newcastle United Foundation Patron and Magpies hero, Shola Ameobi, said: “It’s been such a great pleasure to see Newcastle United Foundation and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation working together and I know Sir Bobby Robson would be immensely proud of what these two charities have achieved and their vision for the future.

“Sir Bobby would be so overwhelmed by the legacy he’s left and hopefully we can carry that on through the Newcastle United Foundation.”

Newcastle United Foundation Project Coordinator Gareth Williams, who works closely with young people and their relatives on the paediatric cancer ward, said: “The support from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is so important to the programme and along with Newcastle United Foundation, we’re working together to make a real difference through the power of football.

“It’s a genuine honour to work with the children at the Great North Children’s Hospital. The children I meet are so resilient and it’s a privilege to meet them and their families to try and make the best of a very difficult time for them all.

“Both foundations are proud to offer unforgettable experiences to the children and their loved ones.”

The scheme in the Great North Children’s Hospital has been funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and delivered by the Newcastle United Foundation since its launch in 2017.

For its third year supporting young cancer patients and their families, the People’s Postcode Lottery will jointly fund the scheme alongside the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

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