Tributes paid to North East occupational therapist who fought cancer for 15 years

Sue Robb passed away peacefully at home from ovarian cancer, surrounded by her loving family

Sue Robb, from Darlington, who has Ovarian Cancer
Sue Robb, from Darlington, who fought ovarian cancer for 15 years

Tributes have been paid to a North East occupational therapist who has lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

Sue Robb, 49, spoke to the Journal in March this year about her fight against the disease in a bid to encourage others to get their symptoms checked.

But the mother-of-two sadly passed away on the day before she turned 50.

Her husband Graham Robb, Chair of the Institute of Directors in the North East and senior partner of Recognition PR in Darlington, said: “Sue and I had one of life’s great partnerships. She was an outstanding person of beauty, integrity and intelligence.

“She had love and kindness towards so many people, especially her family and her patients. In professional work she never forgot the need to care for people and was a fierce defender of the highest standards.

“At home she was the guiding light for two wonderful children and was my life partner for 34 years; we would have been married 30 years this September and she died the day before her 50th birthday.

“She coped with cancer so well to the very end, undergoing years of medical interventions. Her grace, courage and dignity were present in abundance during her final days. Her family will miss her terribly; her death will leave a massive void in our lives.”

Mrs Robb was born near Swindon, Wiltshire and moved to the North East when her father relocated to work as a toolmaker.

Sue Robb, from Darlington
Sue Robb, from Darlington

She was the eldest of three siblings, being followed by brothers Neil and Robert. Neil passed away in 1992.

She spent her childhood in Great Lumley and Sedgefield in County Durham, then in Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough. She attended Nunthorpe School and South Park Sixth Form College. She qualified at the Derby School of Occupational Therapy in 1985.

Her first professional job was in Darlington, where she worked for the Memorial Hospital and ran the St Augustine’s Day Unit. She followed this by working at Sedgefield Community Hospital and then Middlesbrough Social Services.

Her final job was at James Cook University Hospital, where she became OT Manager. She also spent a year as chairman of OTOP, the group of Occupational Therapists specialising in care for Older People.

Throughout her career she also served on groups which ensured hospital quality, reporting to the senior directorate.

Sue met husband Graham at school and they married in 1984. Jessica was born in 1989 and has become a doctor after studying medicine at Newcastle University. Helen was born in 1992, and attended Oxford University before becoming a London-based management consultant.

Sue actively supported Graham’s career in politics, meeting Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and later HM The Queen.

In her spare time she campaigned hard for cancer charities and raised money for Ovarian Cancer and the Ileostomy Association.

She had coped with cancer for 15 years, starting with breast cancer and followed by Ovarian cancer.

She told the Journal in March: “I’m not angry any more, but I was very angry; with myself for not being persistent enough, and with my previous GP for not having a ‘lightbulb moment’ and thinking of ovarian cancer.

“If I had a message to GPs, it would be to please listen to your patients and take them seriously. Those vague symptoms may amount to something.”

She died peacefully at home after being admitted to hospital on June 24. Sue’s funeral will take place on Wednesday July 16 at 2pm at St Cuthbert’s Church, Darlington with a reception afterwards. Flowers and cards are most welcome.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer