Fundraising football fans have handed over thousands of pounds to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
For nearly two decades, football fans from in and around Chester-le-Street have been raising money for local charities with their annual trip to Chester Races.
Known as Sid's Tours, what began as a ‘stag do’ for 36 football fans back in 2001 has now grown to a group of around 200 and has gone on to raise an enormous £75,000 for good causes.
For the last three years, Sid’s Tours, organised by Kevin and Alison Atkinson from Chester-le-Street, have been fundraising for North East cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
During 2018, they raised an amazing £6,138, and yesterday Sir Bobby's widow Lady Elsie was proud to meet up with the group to receive the cheque at the Stadium of Light before Sunderland's game against AFC Wimbledon.
The fundraising first began when Kevin, the co-founder of the Chester-le-Street and District SAFC Supporters’ Association, started putting on events to help the club and local charities.
He handed the Supporters’ Club side of things over to other branch members some years ago and the group, which became Sid’s Tours, is now solely committed to fundraising and includes fans of other football clubs, too.
Kevin said: “When we decided we should pass the reins of the Supporters’ Club on to some of the other members we didn’t want to stop the fundraising we’re all so passionate about.
“We enjoy coming together as a group and are proud to have done some real good over the years. And we’ve enjoyed some fantastic trips away, too.”
Last year’s fundraising included what has become a tradition for Sid’s Tours - a trip to Chester Races with a night out in Liverpool, followed by an afternoon of entertainment - comedy, karaoke and popular Yorkshire band, Here’s Johnny - at Wakefield’s Westgate Common Club.
This year, once again, there was also a special event at Sacriston Workmen’s Club, with North East rock music favourites Alexander’s Palace.
Kevin added: “Fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is important to us because the charity is helping people from all across this region, and we all know someone affected by cancer.
“Lady Elsie’s been very supportive and has been out to Sacriston club a couple of times to meet with us and say thanks.
"I know she’s a regular visitor to the Stadium of Light, and it’s great to see her here today and to be able to hand over the cheque for last year’s efforts in person.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
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, funding cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services, including the clinical trials of new drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Lady Elsie says: “I always enjoy my visits to the Stadium of Light and Bob did, too. Every weekend, he was either here, or Middlesbrough or St James’s Park. Wherever there was football to watch, he’d be there!
“Today’s been especially nice because I’ve been able to say thanks to Kevin, Alison, all the group once again for their generosity and commitment to raising money for us.
“We’re very grateful and every penny will help us find better ways to detect and treat this terrible disease.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation relies completely on volunteer fundraisers and the incredible generosity of the public. He described his charity as his “last and greatest team.”
For more information on the Foundation and its work, visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk.