Bob Willis passed away from prostate cancer in December 2019; Tuesday’s #BlueForBob day at Edgbaston will remember the England and Sky Sports legend and raise awareness of research into fighting the disease; to make a donation, visit BobWillisFund.org
Last Updated: 12/07/21 1:06pm
Edgbaston will turn #BlueForBob during England’s final ODI against Pakistan on Tuesday to remember the late, great Bob Willis and raise awareness of prostate cancer research.
Willis – who took 325 Test wickets for England, including eight in that iconic Ashes spell at Headingley in July 1981, before becoming an acerbic, knowledgeable and revered Sky Sports pundit – passed away from prostate cancer in December 2019 at the age of 70.
Spectators are being urged to wear blue clothing to Tuesday’s match to show their support for The Bob Willis Fund, which was co-founded by Bob’s wife Lauren Clark and his brother David Willis.
The fund aims to support critical research into prostate cancer with the hope that a nationally accessible and accurate screening programme for the disease can be established and save lives.
One in eight men in the UK are affected by prostate cancer, with one dying every 45 minutes, but, as yet, there is no comprehensive national screening programme to highlight how aggressive a person’s cancer may be.
To make a donation, you can visit BobWillisFund.org or text Thirty to 70820 (texting THIRTY will give a £30 donation to the Bob Willis Fund).
Lauren said: “A PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test is blood test designed to give an indication if there is a problem with your prostate. It works for lots of men and is the best we have so far – but it isn’t good enough.
“Pretty much as soon as Bob died, I was very keen to get involved with Prostate Cancer UK and try and create a legacy in Bob’s name. We decided to set up the Bob Willis Fund.
“We thought it was a really good fit – Bob, the No 1 cancer in the UK and cricket. There are a lot of cricket fans who could be suffering from prostate cancer.”
The special day at Edgbaston – at which around 19,000 fans are permitted to attend – will include a Sky Sports Cricket Masterclass in which our pundits look at Bob’s unique bowling action and analyse videos sent in by fans trying to recreate it using the #BowlLikeBob hashtag.
Bob – who called Edgbaston home while he played for Warwickshire between 1972 and 1984 – will also be inducted into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame, with Lauren being presented with Bob’s framed cap and pin badge on his behalf.
Lauren added: “Bob was very funny. His persona on Sky was part of his sense of humour. He sat there all day coming up with some classic lines. In real life, he was incredibly shy and didn’t say much. When he did speak, people really listened to him.”
Bob’s daughter, Katie Reeves, said: “I always found it very strange going to a cricket match and all these people would come around swarming him like he was a movie star and asking for his autograph. To me, he was just my Dad.”
England vs Pakistan
July 13, 2021, 12:30pm
The Bob Willis Fund has Bob’s idol, Bob Dylan, and friend, Tim Rice, as Patrons while Ambassadors include Sir Ian Botham, Michael Atherton, David Lloyd, Michael Holding and Paul Allott.
The main beneficiary for this year’s efforts will be Prostate Cancer UK, whose director of research, Dr Matthew Hobbs, said: “We know the only way we are going to get a better test than PSA, one which finds more prostate cancers at an earlier stage so we can cure them and might have found Bob’s cancer earlier, is research.
“We have already identified a project and the early results are really exciting. It really is important that we raise the money to fund the research.”
‘Bob Willis: A Cricketer and a Gentleman’ is available from all good bookshops and can also be ordered on Amazon.