Today (18th February) is Sir Bobby Robson’s birthday. He would have been 88 and, as Lady Elsie puts it, “incredibly proud” at everything his cancer charity has gone on to achieve.

Thanks to fantastic, ongoing support from its fundraisers, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds a range of cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services that directly benefit patients from across the North East and Cumbria.

Now the Foundation has announced a new fundraising activity, Sir Bobby’s Football Run, to help support the work of the charity and keep supporters active during lockdown – by challenging them to run the same distance as a top-flight footballer.

Players run around 10km during a match and to complete Sir Bobby’s Football Run and ‘run a match’ this March, participants will run 10km, whenever and wherever suits them best. Or, if a full match is a bit too much to take on, to run ‘half a game’ and do 5km.

Runners will be encouraged to wear their football club shirts during the challenge and Lady Elsie is very much looking forward to seeing the pictures.

Lady Elsie says: “I think this is a wonderful idea because it’s helping raise funds for our Foundation but also getting people out and about safely during lockdown.

“We’ve had magnificent support from everyone within the whole football community and this is a lovely way of bringing together both football and fundraising.

“It’s such a positive thing to announce on Bob’s birthday, too, because he did love his birthdays. He’d talk about them for weeks in advance. We hope it’s something that lots of people will be able to join in with and enjoy.”

Sir Bobby’s Football Run is free to enter and participants are asked to try and raise £50 in sponsorship. After completing the run, they will receive a certificate and Bobby Robson Foundation pin badge.

Neil Alderson, an Information Analyst from High Heaton, runs regularly, as does his 10-year-old daughter, Imogen.

Neil says: “Sir Bobby’s Football Run is for a fantastic cause, helping continue supporting cancer research in this region.

“During this difficult last year, running has played an important part of my life. It helps ensure I keep fit and get plenty of fresh air, which has helped not only my physical but mental well-being.

“That’s why this run’s a great idea. A chance to get the whole family involved and do something that will not only benefit yourselves but also the wider community through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”

Emily Gettins, a respite carer from Whitburn, and her three sons Harry (13), Joe (10) and Nico (5) are all looking forward to taking part in the Football Run.

And Harry and Joe play for Sunderland City Juniors Football Club, where all eight teams are signing up and have collectively set themselves an ambitious target to raise £1,000.

Emily Gettins says: “Our family is really looking forward to taking part in Sir Bobby’s Football Run.

“It’s a great opportunity to keep us all active while also raising funds for a fantastic charity. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation makes such a difference to people across our region and beyond.”

Carrie Walton, a Workforce Development Officer from Seaton Delaval, says: “This is such an interesting idea. I had no idea that footballers ran as far as 10km during a match. It just shows how fit and strong they are.

“I think, like many people, I started running to lose a bit of weight. But I found, the more I run, the less I care about that. It’s about clearing my head, what I call ‘burning off the crazy’ of the day!

“So, it’s a great activity to do during these challenging times and by doing the Football Run, you’re also supporting a fantastic local charity, too.”

Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 as a fund within the Newcastle Hospitals Charity. It has gone on to raise over £15m to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer,

Working within the NHS and in partnership with other leading charities and organisations, the work funded directly benefits cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria and plays a significant role in the international fight against the disease.

For more information and to sign up for Sir Bobby’s Football Run, please visit sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk. Or contact the Charity Office by calling 0191 213 7235 or emailing nuth.charity@nhs.net.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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