Ex-Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper has become the fourth patron for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
The former Premier League player was welcomed into the role by Sir Bobby Robson’s widow Lady Elsie and their son Andrew Robson yesterday (Tuesday, September 5).
He is the first new patron of the charity since Lady Elsie asked friends from within football for their help following Sir Bobby’s death. He joins former footballers Alan Shearer and Niall Quinn as well as chairman of Middlesbrough FC, Steve Gibson.
Mr Harper said: “I’m proud, honoured and moved to become a patron of Sir Bobby’s Foundation. I’ve been involved in various ways since the launch of the charity so to become a fully fledged patron is special.
“There’s people who’ve cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, organised a triathlon for primary school kids, had a golf day, all sorts of things. It all adds up and it’s an honour to come along and say thank you to everyone on behalf of the foundation.
“Being in a room like this, you can almost feel Sir Bobby here. Making people feel special, putting smiles on faces. Anything I can do to help and continue to build the great Sir Bobby Robson’s legacy is a privilege for me, and I feel immensely proud.”
The announcement was made at an informal get-together with foundation fundraisers at the Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle.
Lady Elsie said: “Steve’s been absolutely unwavering in his support for Bob’s charity from day one. He’s always been there when we’ve needed him
“More than that, he’s always had a great appreciation and understanding of the importance of the work we’re helping to fund.
“As a family, very soon after Bob died, we decided to keep going with the charity. We could see the good that it was doing and we all knew how important it was to Bob. He called it his legacy.
“So I asked a small number of friends if they could help out by becoming Patrons and, thankfully, they all said yes. We’re very lucky to have their ongoing support.
“That was back in 2009 and over the years Steve has done so much to support us, publicly and privately, that somehow it didn’t feel right that he wasn’t also a patron.
“He has such a close connection to Bob and he’s such a wonderful man, so thoughtful and understanding.
“Like Bob, he’s a County Durham lad and he has a marvellous character. You can see that when he’s talking with fundraisers and people affected by cancer.
“We’re very grateful to Steve, and all our wonderful patrons. I know Bob would be very proud to have him back in his team, ‘officially,’ as it were.”
Sir Bobby Robson’s son Andrew Robson, 58, added: “We’re really pleased to have him on board. My father loved him as a goalkeeper and as a person so it’ll keep the charity in the mind’s eye. Having another patron on board helps the charity.”
Steve began his career at Seaham Red Star and he became Newcastle United’s longest serving player, amassing 20 years on the club’s books.
He also played at Gateshead FC, Hartlepool United and most recently at Sunderland AFC and Hull City.
Sir Bobby Robson launched his foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £11million 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.
For more information about the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation visit the website.