Ashes excitement will reach fever-pitch in the north east in less than three weeks time, when the England and
Australia cricket teams head north to compete for the urn for the first time in the region.
It will be an extra special test for two time Ashes winner and Durham CCC fast bowler, Stephen Harmison, and his Benefit Committee is celebrating the historic event by holding a black tie dinner on 6th August – just three days before the inaugural Ashes test at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground.
The Stephen Harmison Benefit Ashes Dinner, at the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel will be headlined by Stephen’s former international team mate Andrew Flintoff.
Andrew continues to be a key supporter, not only of Stephen’s Benefit Year, but of the two charities which it will in part benefit – the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) Benevolent Fund.
Martin Filson, Benefit Committee chairman, said: “The Ashes is very special to every cricket fan but it’s also played a big role in Stephen and Andrew’s careers. They have had some incredible times playing together against Australia, there have been some really memorable moments. And I’m sure we’ll hear about one or two of those on the night!”
Sir Bobby Robson had a significant influence on Stephen early on in his career, allowing the young bowler to train behind closed doors at Newcastle United before he went on tour with England team to Jamaica in 2004.
During that tour, Stephen reached his full potential recording what would be his career best bowling figures. It was an important feat in the lead up to England’s greatest recent summer and the 2005 Ashes win on home soil.
Martin adds: “The Benefit is helping support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which shows how appreciative Stephen was of Sir Bobby’s support from the early stages in his career.
“The charity enables a lot of important research into the treatment of cancer to take place and I can see why Stephen wanted to support it so keenly.”
Andrew Robson, Sir Bobby’s son, is attending the Ashes Dinner as well as supporting a sell-out Stephen Harmison Benefit Committee Dinner with his two brothers later in the year at Lords.
Andrew says: “Dad was a huge cricket fan and a good friend of Stephen. My family was very touched when he told us he wanted to help support the work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation through his Benefit Year.
“Like Mum said at the time, it’s always special when one of Dad’s former players does something to support us and, even though Stephen’s not a footballer, that’s how this feels.
“This Ashes series has been extremely entertaining so far, although the Australians might not agree. It’s sure to make the dinner a lively evening and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to international research into the disease.
Last year, Lady Elsie officially opened the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit, which was jointly funded by the charity and Newcastle University. The charity also announced it was contributing £850,000 towards life-saving new cyber surgery equipment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Both of these major advances in treatment and tumour detection for cancer patients will work in tandem with the clinical trials of new drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Stephen’s Benefit Year Committee has already organised a golf day and T20 game in the region and a dinner at Lords, a second golf competition and festive race day are all planned for this year.
Tickets are still available for the Stephen Harmison Benefit Ashes Dinner on 6 August at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead. Tickets are priced at £80.