Lady Elsie officially opens hospital’s new unit on day of Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Ball in Bury St Edmunds

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Lady Elsie Robson officially opened West Suffolk Hospital’s new integrated imaging and breast care unit today.

She was in Bury St Edmunds, along with her sons, Mark and Paul, to attend tonight’s charity ball at The Apex, being held in memory of her late husband, football legend Sir Bobby Robson.

Lady Elsie Robson and artist Caroline Blake

Lady Elsie Robson and artist Caroline Blake

The Bury hospital is a beneficiary of Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Campaign which, through the ball and online auction, is aiming to raise £1 million for cancer services.

Named the Lady Elsie Robson Unit, the hospital’s new-look department has brought assessment, imaging and diagnostic services together, providing more convenience for patients.

It has been designed to improve the experience patients have when they are undergoing investigations for cancer, and was funded by a generous legacy left to the Friends of West Suffolk Hospital.

In her speech today, Lady Elsie said: “I am delighted to be at the West Suffolk Hospital today for this very special unveiling of the Lady Elsie Robson Unit. When I was asked if my name could be attached to this special unit, I was humbled by both the offer and the chance to be associated with the amazing work done by clinical staff in this hospital.

“To have breast imaging, diagnostic and breast care services in one place will greatly improve the experience and care of cancer patients at a time when they need it most. My family and I have always held the work of NHS hospitals close to our hearts.

“It is wonderful to note that the Sir Bobby Robson Breakthrough Campaign - headed by my good friend Gina Long - will raise money for West Suffolk Hospital as well as the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Ipswich Hospital.

“It is a huge source of pride for my family that the hospital will use their share of the money to fund a Sir Bobby Robson nurse, working directly with people affected by cancer and helping them get back to a normal life. The nurse, and this wonderful unit, will ensure people in West Suffolk get the best treatment and support possible.”

As well as touring the unit and meeting staff, today’s visit saw Lady Elsie unveil a specifically commissioned piece of glass artwork, taken from an original painting by local artist Caroline Blake, a ‘vibrant and upbeat’ piece called Felicitree.

Mrs Blake, a learning development teacher at Culford School, only began painting a year ago and, having not seen the finished piece before it was unveiled, was overcome with emotion.

The mother-of-two, from Moreton Hall, said: “I’m just absolutely thrilled. I’m someone who hadn’t picked a paintbrush up until last July.”

She added: “When you see yourself as an amateur artist, it’s just thrilling to see that other people appreciate it. To see how beautiful they’ve made it look on the glass, and the fact that it’s going to be permanently here, it’s just an honour really.”

Cavern 4, in Whiting Street, Bury, is currently exhibiting Mrs Blake’s work. To see more, go to

Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction will end at 7pm on Sunday. To browse the hundreds of items up for grabs, which include football fan experiences, luxury escapes, golf getaways, distillery courses, sporting memorabilia and celebrity meet and greets, go to