NEWCASTLE United and Sunderland AFC fans, who have been fundraising together for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, travelled to St James’ Park this week to meet with charity patron Steve Harper.

Steve, who had spells at both clubs and is now a first team coach at Newcastle United was proud to receive the cheque for £5,213, which the group raised over the last year.

For nearly two decades, the football fans from in and around Chester-le-Street, known as Sid’s Tours, have been fundraising for local charities.

What began as a “stag do” back in 2001 has now grown to a group of around 200 and, for the last four years, they have been supporting the foundation, raising more than £20,000 for the cancer charity in that time.

Last year’s fundraising included what has become a tradition for Sid’s Tours – a trip to Chester Races with a night out in Liverpool, followed by an afternoon of entertainment at Wakefield’s Westgate Common Club.

This year there was also a special event at Sacriston Workmen’s Club with North East rock-music favourites, Alexander’s Palace.

Steve said: “I enjoyed meeting Sid’s Tours at St James’ and it was great to hear about their annual fundraising for the foundation.

"It all sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve had a fantastic time at Chester Races myself, so I know they’ll have had a good trip away.

“I know Sir Bobby would be proud to see fans from Newcastle and Sunderland coming together like this. As he said, cancer takes no account of colours. Black and white, red and white, we’re all the same, and it’s important that we continue to support cancer research in our region for the good of us all.”

Sid’s Tours, is organised by Kevin and Alison Atkinson from Chester-le-Street. Lady Elsie was proud to receive the cheque for the money they raised during 2018 when she visited the Stadium of Light.

Kevin said: “Sid’s Tours has really grown over the years. We all have a great time together and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved for charity as well.

“Since we started, we’ll have raised over £85,000 for local causes and it feels very right to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because it’s a charity helping cancer patients across the whole region.”

In addition to the money raised through their annual fundraising activities, the total raised by Sid’s Tours this year included the collection from the funeral of Newcastle United fan, John ‘Hacka’ Marland.

John, from Sacriston and later Chester-le-Street, was a regular on Sid’s Tours trips away and a season ticket holder at St James’ Park for 30 years. He died from sepsis in August last year and his daughter, Julie Smith, came with the group to St James’ Park.

Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £14 million to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer by working within the NHS and in partnership with other leading charities and organisations.

The work funded directly benefits cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria and plays a significant role in the international fight against the disease - funding cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services.