This Monday (17th April) has been designated Sir Bobby Robson Day in Ipswich, as two of Sir Bobby’s clubs – Ipswich Town and Newcastle United – play each other in the Championship.
Around 2,000 enthusiastic Newcastle fans will be travelling to Suffolk for the all ticket match (tickets won’t be available to purchase on the day) but, strangely, for one group of supporters the most important part of the fixture will be the journey home.
Hike4Hopey is a challenging 333 mile charity walk from the statue of Sir Bobby at Portman Road, Ipswich, to his statue at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
They are walking in memory of Control Firefighter, Lee Hope – and Lee’s brother, Scott Hope, and his widow, Amy Richardson, are among the group undertaking the challenge.
Lee Hope was father to Livia and was a huge Newcastle United fan. Originally from the city, he moved to Guernsey in 2010. He died from bowel cancer a year ago aged just 33.
His brother, Scott, also works with the Fire and Rescue Service and explains why they’re taking on the challenge.
Scott, who is a Firefighter Control, is from North Shields and says: “My brother was a massive Newcastle fan and loved Sir Bobby Robson. He even asked people for donations to the charity when he married Amy instead of wedding presents.
“Just before he died, he asked for any donations in his memory to go to the Foundation and I think he’d be amazed to know that amounted to more than £4,000.
“This has been such a difficult year for Amy and Livia. For all of our family and Lee’s friends, really. It’s felt important to do something positive and this has given us something to focus on.
“There have been all kinds of Hike4Hopey fundraising events and activities already, like bike rides and a family fun day, and we’re really proud to have raised over £10,000.
“We’re receiving amazing support from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service as well as other Fire and Rescue Services throughout the country, and so many other generous people.
“We can’t wait to get going but we’re mainly looking forward to the last day when we’ll be joined by lots more friends and supporters for the final leg between Durham and Newcastle.
“Lee was a bit of a friendly giant to be honest. He had a very intimidating frame but he was one of the nicest guys you could meet.
“He’d be overwhelmed by the response to the challenge and he’d be extremely proud of the amount of money being raised in his name for such a fantastic and worthwhile charity. I wish he was around to see it for himself.”
Before the walkers set off for Suffolk, The Hike4Hopey Challenge received the backing of another football legend – Alan Shearer.
Alan is a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and he recently met with Scott in Newcastle to discuss the challenge.
Alan says: “It was a great pleasure to meet with Scott and hear more about Hike4Hopey. I wish all the walkers the best of luck because that’s a very, very long walk.
“Scott talked to me about losing his brother to cancer last year. His family have been through an awful lot and it says a lot about them that they’re fundraising for the Foundation at this time.
“It’s always moving and uplifting meeting with fundraisers. Usually they have strong personal or family reasons for wanting to help. Sadly, as we all know, very few people go through life unaffected by cancer.
“Sir Bobby was, quite rightly, incredibly proud of what his Foundation was achieving. You could see it in his face when he opened the Sir Bobby Centre back in 2009, which was a great occasion.
“His charity is working hard to find better ways to treat cancer and I can think of no more fitting legacy for the great man than that.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £10 million to 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.
Working within the NHS, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation 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.
To donate to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation through #Hike4Hopey, please visit: www.justgiving.com/Hike4Hopey