Donor Robert saves three strangers’ lives

Robert preparing for his latest fundraising challenge (Pic: George McLuskie)
Robert preparing for his latest fundraising challenge (Pic: George McLuskie)

A plucky Freuchie man whose bone marrow has saved the lives of three strangers is facing one of his toughest fundraising challenges yet.

Golfing enthusiast Robert Duff (51) aims to play nine holes on six different courses in the space of a day – teeing off at Thurso at 4.30am in the morning and finishing at his home course of Falklandin the evening.

He’ll be accompanied by his friend and club captain Scott Noakes, and the pair will cover some 250 miles with the aim of raising funds for the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

Robert, a factory machine operator at Smith Anderson, has been a blood marrow donor for around 30 years and gave his first donation in 1991.

Four years later he met the recipient of his cells, a Danish pilot named Michael, and the pair really hit it off . Robert went to Denmark to meet him and Michael stayed with him twice in Freuchie.

Said Robert: “ He survived until 1998, so I know I gave him seven more years of life and a chance to see his son grow up. You can see the difference a transplant makes”.

Robert’s second donation took place three years after the first, to a man in Liverpool, who sadly contracted pneumonia in hospital and passed away soon after.

In 2001, Robert was called on to donate his bone marrow for a remarkable third time, this time to a young child in France.

Due to strict rules at the registry in France, Robert has never been able to get in touch with the recipient, although he did receive a letter five years later from the recipient thanking him.

Since then Robert has focused his energies on fundraising for Anthony Nolan.

“I know the difference transplants can make, and I thought why not combine things I enjoy with raising money,” he said.

“I’m aiming for one fundraising activity a year and try to do something different each time”.

“I’ve done abseils and a cross country cycle; I’ve run the London marathon twice and the New York marathon once; I’ve done a 12-hour pool marathon, held football matches and a charity night

“I had only intended to run two marathons, however, after the third transplant, I vowed that I would do a third marathon, as the patients have to go through such a marathon treatment process, and I felt it was the least I could do.”

Robert continued: “My own grandson was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2003. Luckily his treatment worked and he didn’t need a transplant, but I almost saw it from the other side, and we might have been reliant on a stranger to do the same thing for us”.

The golfing challenge takes place on July 6. To sponsor Robert, go to