Cricket star Graeme Swann is lending his support to the charity of one of the North East’s most-loved sporting heroes.
Fresh from helping his team-mates retain the Ashes, the spin bowler and big Newcastle United fan has become a member of the committee of volunteers behind Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction.
The announcement was made yesterday when the sports star joined Lady Robson and her son Paul at the Radisson Hotel in Durham City.
The auction, which is made-up of an online auction, a text-to-win competition and Suffolk Ball, aims to raise £1m for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Graeme, who donated a VIP test match experience to last year’s auction, said: “I was asked to get involved last year by donating a prize for the auction. I donated Lords Test Match tickets and signed programmes.
“It went really well last year. Sir Bobby loved his cricket as well as his football.
“When I donated, I didn’t realise at first how big it was and how big the names were that had donated or were involved. I felt completely out of depth next to the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson but quite excited about it.
“This year, they asked me to be on the committee and I jumped at the chance. Sir Bobby is an absolute hero of mine. My family is from the North East and I was brought-up in a Newcastle United household and everything he did was cheered-on by my family.
“Unfortunately, I only ever met him near the end when Newcastle played Middlesbrough. I was sat just down from him and I was like a kid at Christmas.”
Graeme added: “Sir Bobby is synonymous with the North East and it’s exceptional that the charity he set-up is still going so strong now.”
Taking place from October 10 - 27, Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction will raise funds to help fight cancer. Last year, the auction raised £250,000 and big sporting names like Sir Alex Ferguson, Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola, Andre Villas Boas, David Beckham and Arsene Wenger donated prizes. Lady Robson said: “Bob absolutely loved cricket and I know he’d be thrilled by Graeme’s giving this auction.
“We’re so lucky to have such wonderful help for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. I’m often amazed by the amount of effort people will go to for the charity. It’s really very touching. My husband launched his charity to help other people faced with cancer and we’re so proud and so glad that we can keep doing just that.”
Auction prizes already confirmed include a VIP trip to next year’s F1 in Monaco by private Eclipse jet, exclusive tickets to the 2014 PFA Awards Dinner and a week sailing on a luxury catamaran for 10 people around the British Virgin Isles. Sir Bobby’s son, Paul, said: “We as a family are so grateful to Graeme’s commitment to the foundation.
“This particular time is very busy with the Test match coming up in Durham on Friday and we’re very grateful to have such a high-profile figure from the cricket world on board.”
Meanwhile, former international cricketer Steve Harmison was also doing his bit for the foundation as he hosted the Stephen Harmison Benefit Committee’s Ashes Dinner last night.
He was joined by friends and former teammates including Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, Australia coach Darren Lehmann and Lady Robson for the dinner at the Hilton in Gateshead.
Harmison, who plays county cricket for Durham, said: “Darren Lehmann has given his time and it’s great what he is doing here. He’s someone I played a lot of cricket against with Durham and on occasions with England.”