A Sunderland family devastated by the death of a much-loved father have paid tribute to his memory by raising funds for a charity close to his heart.
Today, the family of Terry MacDonald should have been preparing to help him celebrate what would have been his 38th birthday.
The father-of-two, from Penwood Road, Pennywell, lost a short battle with cancer on December 17.
Since then his devoted partner Lindsey Carlson, his mum Olwyn and sister Stephanie have been raising funds for the Bobby Robson Foundation.
The charity was chosen as Terry, who worked as a salesman for Sky then Virgin Media, had visited the Sir Bobby Centre for a consultation following his cancer diagnosis.
However, he sadly died before he could trial a drug which may have prolonged his life.
Together with the help of family and friends, they have raised more than £10,000 for the charity - helping the foundation to smash the £10m mark.
Today, the foundation has announced it is also contributing almost £1m to fund four clinical research and nursing posts at the Newcastle University Centre for Childhood Cancer, which will open soon.
The new centre will focus on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatment for children with advanced cancer, or for those whose illness has come back.
It will also improve access to new cancer drugs for children and young people in the North East and Cumbria.
Miss Carlson said: “Losing Terry to cancer broke all our hearts and we hope the money we’ve raised will go to some way in helping stop another family from going through what we have, as that’s what Terry would have wanted.
“The fundraising was started by Stephanie and whenever I was able to, me and the two boys would help where we could.
“It’s just nice people came to the fundraising nights and are helping to keep Terry’s memory alive.
“Today, he would have been 38 and to have the news announced by the charity on his birthday, he would have loved it.”
His sister Stephanie said: “We started with a fundraising night at the local Comrades Club. We had a raffle and people were very generous on the night and with donating prizes.
“We had signed Sunderland memorabilia from the club and any amount of raffle and auction items from friends, local shops and Terry’s work. Rihanna tickets, an iPad, it was really amazing.
“Then we had a football tournament and Terry’s friends all played and a race night, too.
“People have been amazingly generous. It’s meant a lot to all of us. And it’s been something positive for us to put our minds to.
“It’s so important that we keep supporting research into cancer. That’s why we chose the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Terry had a consultation at the Sir Bobby Centre, but died before he could try a trial drug.
“It’s a heartbreaking disease. But you have to keep believing there’s something out there though, something that will eventually beat cancer.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his foundation in 2008 to raise an initial £500,000 to equip a cancer trials research centre.
But eight years on, thanks to unwavering support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has broken through the £10million fundraising barrier through donations raised by people holding events and fundraising days.
His wife Lady Elsie said: “We really had no idea how successful the Foundation would become.
“Starting the charity was literally something we talked about over the kitchen table. We’d been asked for help and this was Bob’s way of giving it.
“Last year was our biggest fundraising year to date. I find that amazing and to have raised £10million is absolutely unbelievable.
“The support we receive from people fundraising or donating to us and from all the organisations who help us, is magnificent. I’m very grateful to them all.
“I’m extremely proud of the work we fund and it meant the world to Bob.
“Every time we are able to fund something which will help make a difference to cancer patients, I think of him. And the many other people I’ve known who have suffered because of this terrible disease.
“I think it’s like that for most of our supporters, too. Raising funds for a charity is often a very personal thing and I’m very proud so many people choose to do it for us.”
Niall Quinn,a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “This is a magnificent achievement. I think Sir Bobby would be absolutely stunned by it to be quite honest.
“He had a goal when he launched his charity, to help give the people of this region truly world-class cancer treatment.
“Thanks to the amazing support it receives, that’s exactly what the Foundation is continuing to provide for the people of Wearside and across the whole of the North East and Cumbria.
“It’s important to remember, this £10million hasn’t been raised by the charity. It’s the result of tens of thousands of generous people making a donation or organising their own fundraising events.
“People just like the Macdonald family who have been so cruelly affected by cancer.
“Terry was obviously a very special person and his family deserve enormous credit for the way they’ve reacted to his loss.
“Their fundraising in Terry’s memory is such a positive thing to do and will help other people whose lives have also been turned upside down because of cancer.
“Sir Bobby was fond of describing the people who helped raise funds for the Foundation as his ‘last and greatest team.’ He wasn’t wrong at all. There are a lot of generous and thoughtful people out there.”