Campaign to fund Bury St Edmunds cancer nurse in Sir Bobby Robson’s honour

Lesley Day from the West Suffolk hospital.
Lesley Day from the West Suffolk hospital.

Cancer patients receiving treatment at West Suffolk Hospital are to benefit from a new specialist nurse named in honour of footballing legend Sir Bobby Robson.

The new post will be funded by money raised from the Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Campaign auction and ball.

The Sir Bobby Robson nurse will work directly with people affected by cancer, helping them get back to a normal life.

Plans for the new role have been supported by Lesley Day, medical staffing manager at the Bury St Edmunds hospital, whose first-hand experience of battling cancer has demonstrated to her the impact the nurse will have.

She said: “A Sir Bobby Robson nurse would be hugely important in helping cancer patients to maintain as full and active a life as possible.

“Away from the hospital, they would be able to help you deal with the fears, worries and emotions brought on by living with cancer and would make a huge difference to patients across West Suffolk.”

Lesley, 48, from Bury, was diagnosed with cancer last year and admitted telling her 13-year-old daughter, Grace, was the hardest part.

She said: “My first thoughts were that cancer had got my parents and my best friend – but I was determined it wasn’t going to get me.

“Once I got over the initial shock, I quickly realised I had to tell my daughter. I remember walking down the hospital corridor and just bursting into tears at the prospect. That was just hideous.

“She was in shock for several days afterwards. But throughout the diagnosis and treatment, it was comforting having someone to think about and be motivated by. Grace was my reason to be determined and positive about beating cancer – having her made a huge difference.”

“The support of my Christian faith, all my friends and work colleagues were also immeasurable,” she added.

The hospital’s new cancer nurse will be based at the Macmillan Unit and will promote exercise, healthy lifestyle and diet for patients who have completed their treatment.

Although initially paid for with money from the auction and ball, the post will be funded by the hospital in future years.

The Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Campaign was first held two years ago and raised £248,000 in just two weeks. Now, with more than 200 auctions lots secured and more announced on a daily basis, organisers are hoping to raise £1 million this time around.

Alongside a text-to-win competition, an online auction will run from Thursday (October 10) until October 27 and a charity ball will be held at The Apex on October 24.

Of the money raised, half will go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, 30 per cent to Breakthrough Breast Cancer and 10 per cent each to West Suffolk and Ipswich Hospitals.

Lesley has urged people to support the campaign, adding: “Every step of the way, the consultants at West Suffolk Hospital were brilliant and the nurses were absolute stars and so reassuring and supportive.

“They were so understanding of what I was going through. They made me realise how important it is to have nurses like that around. That is why it is so important we raise as much money as possible for the Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough ball and auction.”

Gina Long, founder of the charity campaign, said: “The online auction and ball in Suffolk are magnificent platforms which allow everyone to get involved and help us raise crucial funds for these charities, which are all very worthy causes close to my heart.”

You can help by taking part in the text-to-give, by donating a prize for the online auction, registering to bid, following @sirbobbyauction on Twitter, ‘liking’ the Facebook page or visiting the JustGiving site.

For more information about the auction and the items going under the virtual hammer, visit www.sirbobbysbreakthroughauction.com