Milton Keynes based brain tumour charity launches new research centre

Prof Chris Jones pictured with his team at The Institute of Cancer Research in London (Photo: BTR charity)
Prof Chris Jones pictured with his team at The Institute of Cancer Research in London (Photo: BTR charity)

Milton Keynes-based charity Brain Tumour Research, is launching a new research centre dedicated to finding a cure for the deadliest of all childhood cancers.

The charity has set up a fourth Centre of Excellence, with initial funding of £2.5 million and a £1 million donation from a Gloucestershire widow who lost her husband to a brain tumour.

The charity’s co-founder and Padbury-based trustee Sue Farrington Smith is attending today’s event which coincides with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. (6/9)

Sue, who retired as chief executive earlier this year, lost her niece, Alison Phelan, to a glioma three weeks before her eighth birthday in 2001 and will be placing a tile on the Centre’s Wall of Hope in her memory.

She said: “I am extremely proud that Brain Tumour Research is now funding this paediatric-focused centre and that I will be able to place a tile on the Wall of Hope in memory of Ali and all those lost to a brain tumour.

“It’s an honour to attend the launch event alongside families, who like mine, know the devastation of a childhood brain tumour diagnosis and are also determined to find a cure.”

The £1m donation, from retired college lecturer Mary Scott, is the largest single gift in the charity’s history. It was made in memory of Mike Scott, who made his fortune in business on the Isle of Man.

Mike was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma (GBM), an incurable and fast-growing brain cancer, after experiencing confusion and dizziness among other symptoms. He underwent surgery and further treatment but his tumour, the most commonly diagnosed high-grade brain tumour in adults, grew back and there were no other treatment options.

He died in June 2020, aged 69, with Mary by his side.

Mary added: “I count myself very fortunate to be able to make this substantial donation. Mike adored children so it’s especially fitting that this new Centre will focus on finding a cure for high-grade tumours in children.

“To think of those poor parents whose children are affected by brain tumours is absolutely dreadful. My hope is that, with this legacy, Mike’s death won’t have been in vain, that his name will live on and that the money will go some way towards finding a cure.”

Also attending are Niki O’Dea-Patel and Deenu Patel, from Brain Tumour Research Member Charity Shay’s Smiles, based in Woburn Sands. The couple lost their eldest child, Shay, 13, to a glioblastoma (GBM) in September 2020.

Dr Karen Noble, director of research, policy and innovation at Brain Tumour Research, said: “It is vital attention is focused on this most deadly of childhood cancers. We are extremely grateful to Mary and all our supporters whose commitment and hard work has made this new Centre possible, but we do need the Government to step up and do more, and not rely so much on investment from charities.”

Prof Jones, professor of childhood brain tumour biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, added: “The Centre will act as an international hub for the development of new treatments for children and young adults. Improving outcomes for children with these types of tumour is crucial if we are to make progress.”