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Through the Wind and Rain For Sir Bobby Robson

10 years ago


Stephen Turnbull, from Acomb near Hexham, was tormented for years by the map of northern England on his office wall.

The route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth ‘screamed out’ at him to be run until eventually his family’s experiences with cancer pushed him to undertake the challenge to raise funds in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

It took him five days to complete the 123 mile run, during which time he weathered a massive storm, celebrated his 46th birthday and proposed to his girlfriend.

Stephen says: “It’s hard to explain but that map on the office wall has distracted me for ages.  Thinking about doing that coast to coast run just wouldn’t go away.

“Finally I decided to do it because of what cancer has done to my family.  My aunt died from breast cancer, my cousin died aged just 29 and my mum is fighting liver cancer now.  I wanted to do something for them and for other people fighting this terrible disease and finally thought enough is enough, it’s time to stop thinking about it and actually do it.

“I’m a football coach and big fan of Sir Bobby Robson and I immediately thought of raising money for his Foundation.  Cancer was the reason I undertook the challenge and Sir Bobby was the inspiration.”

Stephen, an IT sales manager and coach of Hexham Greens FC, was supported on his run by girlfriend Helen Hails who followed in a car.

Stephen adds: “I couldn’t have done this without Helen’s help.  The day of the big storm was hilarious.  I just got so wet it was funny.

“The final day was amazing.  I ran 35 miles, which was the furthest I ever have, and was just getting slower and slower. Thinking about my family, Sir Bobby and the people backing me for his charity really helped.

“My head was so full up.  It was my last day and I knew my mum and family would be at the beach, it was also my birthday and I knew I was going to propose to Helen.  But when I got the Tynemouth I was so exhausted all I could think was, I can’t believe the flaming tide’s out, now I’ve got another couple of hundred yards to run!

“Helen came down to the sea with me and I got down on one knee to propose.  Thankfully she said yes and the first thing she did as my fiancé was to help me get back up.

“It was an incredibly tough challenge and for my next birthday I think I’ll just eat some cake.  But I enjoyed it a lot and the money raised made it all worthwhile.  It was an unforgettable experience.”

Stephen’s target for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was £500 and he has gone on to raise over £1,500.

The money will directly benefit people in the north east and Cumbria fighting cancer and will contribute to the international search for more effective treatments for the disease.

Pauline Buglass, head of fund-raising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “Stephen’s efforts for the Foundation are greatly appreciated.

“He’s taken on an incredibly hard challenge and seen it through to the end.  He should be very proud of his achievement and we’re very grateful to him and everyone who has sponsored him.”

Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie Robson launched the Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £4 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer.

To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information please visit or donate by sending a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN.

Stephen’s JustGiving page is at


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