Today marks the fifth anniversary of football legend Sir Bobby Robson’s death.
The former County Durham pitman enjoyed an incredible career as a footballer and manager and his influence within the game continues to be felt.
During his last 18 months, as he was receiving treatment for cancer for the fifth time, Sir Bobby was focused on a new goal to help fight the devastating illness.
In March 2008, after a request for help from his oncologist, Prof Ruth Plummer, based at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Sir Bobby launched a cancer charity that he said he hoped would become his legacy.
His wife, Lady Elsie, and three sons Paul, Andrew and Mark, are committed to continuing the work he began through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and it has now raised a staggering £7.3m to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
Lady Robson said: “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 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.”
Sir Bobby called his charity his “last and greatest team”. He would have been proud to see that his initial aim of raising £500,000 to equip a cancer trials research centre has been hugely surpassed over the years.
The father-of-three passed away at the age of just 76. At the time of the former Newcastle United manager’s death there was a huge outpouring of grief as thousands of fans left tributes at St James’ Park. Lady Robson 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.
“It was remarkable the outpouring of grief. It was something I think the football public needed at the time, as well as us. We needed it.
“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.”
To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk or donate by sending a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Charitable Funds Office, Peacock Hall, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP.