Celebrating achievements under a prodigious leader

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An evening of celebration marked the retirement of Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive and co-founder of Brain Tumour Research. 

A fundraising dinner at the Apothecaries’ Hall in London on Thursday 21st September honoured the achievements of the charity under Sue’s leadership since its launch from her home in 2009.

Sue and her husband Justin were joined by influential people from across the brain tumour community, including lead scientists and clinicians from our four Centres of Excellence as well as chief executives and founders of other Brain Tumour Research Member Charities. Also invited were trustees, key supporters and campaigners, and the charity’s management team, as well as representatives from businesses which have supported the charity since its launch.

Having lost her niece Alison Phelan to a brain tumour in 2001, just before her eighth birthday, Sue originally jointly founded Ali’s Dream, a founding charity of Brain Tumour Research, with her sister Julie to fund research into paediatric brain cancer to help find a cure. Her passion for the cause was further ignited through all the families Sue met affected by brain tumours.

In 2009 Sue led the coming together of a number of brain tumour charities to found Brain Tumour Research, with a vision to find a cure for all types of brain tumours through setting up a network of Centres of Excellence. Since our launch in the House of Commons in 2009, Brain Tumour Research has raised £43 million and funds four Centres with plans to establish a further three. 

Over the intervening years, we have campaigned at the highest levels, along with our activists, for greater national investment in research into brain tumours to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia. Brain Tumour Research has become the leading voice across the UK for the brain tumour community in Parliament, across social media channels and through national, regional and online media.

Speaking at the event, Sue said: “When Ali was diagnosed with a brain stem glioma brain tumour, now known as diffuse midline glioma, we very quickly learned how bleak the outlook was for brain tumour patients. It was devastating to realise that there were no effective treatments and absolutely no cure and that we were going to lose her. It made us determined to help make a difference for families in the future affected by this devastating disease.

“The majority of you here tonight would not have asked to join this community. We were thrust into the world of brain tumours with shock and disbelief. For many of us, we were horrified that there were so few treatments and that we could not save our loved ones.

“My time at the helm of Brain Tumour Research has been the most fulfilling years of my life. I am proud of everything we have achieved so far and although I have retired as chief executive, I am still very much involved as a trustee of the charity. I am grateful to all of you who have come here tonight to celebrate Brain Tumour Research’s achievements to date and grateful for all the donations to my retirement fundraising page which now stands at a wonderful more than £3,000.” 

To donate to Sue’s retirement fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research, please click here.

Sue is pictured (front centre) with the Brain Tumour Research Leadership Team, (left to right) Ashley Bailey, Andrea Abbis, Dan Knowles (our new Chief Executive), Russell Marriott and Dr Karen Noble.

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