Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service staff who took part in a marathon bike ride to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation have been thanked in person by Sir Bobby’s widow, Lady Elsie.
A team of nine intrepid cyclists rode to all 17 fire stations in the Tyne and Wear area on 23 September, covering a distance of 92 miles in one day.
They raised £985 which has been shared between the foundation, in memory of late friend and colleague Control Firefighter Lee Hope, and the national Firefighters Charity. Lee died on 19 July 2016 aged just 33.
Lee, whose older brother Scott works within Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, died just 13 weeks after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Lady Elsie said: “Lee obviously meant a great deal to his colleagues in the fire and rescue service, and it’s touching that they’re so keen to help raise funds in his memory.
“We’re grateful for everything they’ve already done and I know Lee’s brother, Scott, has further plans to help.
“It’s all a wonderfully positive way to remember Lee and it was a great pleasure to come along to Washington and say thank you on behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in person.”
Control Support Crew Manager Karl Faetz, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, who organised the fundraising event, said: “I knew Lee since he was 18, and as one of his last wishes was to raise money for the foundation in his name, I wanted to do something to help.
“The bike ride was hard work, but worth it for such a deserving cause and to remember a good friend.
“It was great to meet Lady Elsie and we really appreciated her coming to thank us in person.”
Scott Hope believes the charity fundraising in Lee’s name would have made him very proud.
Scott said: “Lee told us in the last few days of his life that he’d like any donations to go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. He’d always been a fan of Sir Bobby and when he married his wife, Amy, they even did some fundraising at the wedding.
“Over £4,000 was donated just after Lee died and I think he’d be really happy that his family and friends have gone on to do even more to help the charity, too.
“I’m very proud of Karl and the lads for completing this cycle ride in Lee’s memory. The money raised will go on to help other people with cancer, and that’s a great way to remember my brother.”
Scott is organising his own fundraising activity for the two charities, too. Next April, with a group of family and friends, he will walk from Sir Bobby’s statue at Portman Road, Ipswich, to his statue at St James’ Park in Newcastle. The epic 333-mile walk is called Hike4Hopey and will take 12 days to complete.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation aims to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer and has raised over £10 million.
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.
Working within the NHS, it does not employ professional fundraisers to proactively raise money and relies completely on third party, volunteer fundraisers and the incredible generosity of the general public.
Most recently, the charity made a £1million contribution to fund clinical research and nursing posts at the new Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre at Newcastle University.
The new centre focuses on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatment for children with advanced cancer, or for those whose illness has come back.