Couple’s fundraising efforts have made life more comfortable for cancer patients
14:38 16 November 2012
Archant © 2012
When leukaemia victim Robert Foot stayed at hospital more than a decade ago there wasn’t anything in his room to keep him entertained.
His heartbroken parents Michael and Wendy watched him grow frustrated from having nothing to do as the 33-year-old started to lose his cancer battle.
So after Robert passed away on November 5, 2002, his parents set up a charity in his memory the very next day to buy “patient comforts”.
Now ten years since the Robert Fund Leukaemia Fund was established the Walpole St Peter couple have raised a staggering £135,500.
And they have used the money to hand over countless games consoles, DVDs, portable DVD players and board games for patients to enjoy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn.
Patients staying at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, and Guy’s Hospital in London have also benefited from the couple’s determination. All three hospitals were places Robert stayed.
Mr Foot, 69, said: “Losing a child is not a scar, it is an open wound which never heals in time – you just learn to live with it more.
“We had no idea when we started how much we would raise. We didn’t have any expectations or targets, we just wanted to raise as much as we can.
“We worked out recently that over the ten years, £37 a day has been raised since he died and I think that is astonishing.”
Mrs Foot added: “I think Rob would be delighted that his influence for good has continued. It gives us a great deal of satisfaction and helps us come to terms with what happened.”
Robert Foot, who worked as a political adviser for the Ministry of Defence, was made an OBE just before he died for his work in Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war.
His father, who was headteacher at Reffley Primary School, continued: “After setting up the fund, we very quickly realised however much we raised, it would only be a small drop in the ocean to the amount needed for research.
“So we decided to focus our efforts to the people, like Robert, having to stay in hospitals for long periods.”
Mrs Foot, 68, added: “Our goals have always remained the same but the way the funds have been raised has changed over the years.
“When Robert died, he was only 33 and so were many of his friends. They decided to set themselves ‘macho’ challenges like marathons but now we have more functions like our annual quiz night.
“People also tend to come to us with ideas for fundraising, like the Santa run in Downham Market, rather than us going to them which has helped.”
Robert’s sister Helen, her husband Jonathan Porter and their children James, 11, and Gemman, nine, will be travelling from Alton, in Hampshire, to lead the Santa run on Sunday, November 25.
It is hoped that 100 Santas will take part in the one mile run, jog or walk around the one-way system from 2.30pm to raise money for the charity.
Mr Foot added: “Robert was always an enormous power of good and even though he is not physically with us, all the things that have happened and the people we’ve met over the last ten years, have all had something to do with Robert.
“We will now continue to press on and keep raising money. The momentum behind the fund is still as strong as it was 10 years ago.”
For more information about the charity and other upcoming events visit www.rflf.org.uk or call Mr and Mrs Foot on 01945 780 468.