TWO England football legends have called on the people of the North-East to support a £1m appeal to improve the care of cancer patients.

Former Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan OBE and ex-Sunderland boss Peter Reid were guests of honour at a sportsman’s dinner in Durham to raise money for the “Excellence in Cancer Care” appeal

being supported by The Northern Echo


The campaign, launched by the official charity for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, aims to establish a centre of excellence for cancer care.

The centre would be developed at the chemotherapy day unit at the University Hospital of North Durham but will be accessed by patients from across County Durham for their initial treatment.

The Northern Echo:

Speaking before the dinner at Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, Keegan told how his father Joe, a former miner, had died of cancer. And Reid spoke emotionally about his daughter Louise’s recent successful battle with cervical cancer.

Keegan said: “This appeal is so important because we all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and we have to give people the best treatment possible.

“The North-East has the highest cancer rates in the country so we really need to build momentum. There are all sorts of ways to raise money. It won’t be easy to reach the target but the people of the North-East are known for their generosity.”

Reid added: “My daughter was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and it really hit me. She went through some operations and had chemotherapy and has now got the all-clear, but it brings it home.

“We’ve got fantastic specialists and nurses in this area but they need a place where they can provide the best care possible. We need to raise this money as soon as possible and I’m sure we will.”

The campaign has been adopted by The Northern Echo to mark the paper’s 150th anniversary in 2020. The aim is to reach the £1m target by next summer, so that cramped facilities at the chemotherapy unit can be improved and patients given more privacy.

The fundraising dinner was hosted by Sky Sports presenter Pete Graves and sponsored by Newcastle-based development consultancy Stephenson-Mohl.

The company’s managing director Mark Stephenson said: “I lost both my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to cancer, and they left two children. Cancer touches everyone sooner or later so we’re proud to support the appeal and put something back into the community.

“Our aim is to start twisting arms and pull other businesses from our network into the appeal because it is so important.”

Appeal manager Pat Chambers said: “The dinner was a huge success with Kevin and Peter captivating the audience with their stories and banter. They signed countless autographs and posed for pictures all night.”

Keegan donated a signed England shirt to be auctioned at a future event and Reid donated a monogrammed shirt.

To find out how you can support the appeal, call 01325 743781 or email