A STARRY line-up of North-East heroes has pledged support to plans to create a dedicated children’s cancer research centre in Newcastle.

Musician Sting and TV writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais of The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen Pet fame are amongst a group of North-East celebrities to have become patrons of The Future Fund.

The fund aims to raise £5.5m to create the Newcastle University Centre for Childhood Cancer, a state-of-the-art facility where the city’s academics and clinicians can advance and accelerate the children’s cancer research and treatment that has already earned them international recognition.

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It is a collaborative project between the university, the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR) charity and Newcastle Hospitals’ Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) – home to one of the UK’s leading centres for paediatric oncology.

The nine local heroes nominated by the public, are:

• David Almond, award-winning author of children’s book Skellig.

• Dame Margaret Barbour, who reinvented the Barbour clothing brand.

• Professor Sir John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University.

• Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, co-creators of classic British comedies Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Likely Lads and Porridge

• Ray Jackson and Ray Laidlaw, of Lindisfarne.

• Doreen ‘Granny’ Jardine, Newcastle community activist.

• Sting, multi-award winning singer

Launched in June, the Future Fund has already generated more than £700,000 towards its plans which will focus on developing therapies with fewer side effects and treatments for children with advanced cancer of those whose cancer has come back.

Sting said: "The research teams at Newcastle University are doing vital work on the development of more effective and less harmful cancer treatments for children. I am proud to lend my name to support the Future Fund campaign.

On behalf of Dick Clement and himself, Ian La Frenais said: "We have both lived in many different places over the years, but the North-East still has a place in our hearts. The Future Fund for Children with Cancer makes us proud of our links to the region."

Professor Josef Vormoor, director of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, who is leading the Future Fund campaign, said:“We are overwhelmed by the level of support we have had from so many celebrated friends in the North East. We are grateful to the University’s esteemed cancer researcher Professor Sir John Burn who helped galvanise the endorsement of fellow local heroes .”

For information and to donate visit futurefund.co.uk.