Our biggest Brain Tumour Awareness Month ever

4 min read

It’s fair to say that Brain Tumour Awareness Month 2024 was another level in raising awareness of brain tumours and the vital funds needed to help find a cure.

You, our wonderful community, came out in force, along with more than 100 celebrities and influencers, to shout about #ShineALight, Light Up The UK and Wear A Hat Day, support our campaigning efforts and launch our Manifesto.

The month began with supporters from around the world coming together to shine a bright light for the many families devastated by brain tumours. At 7.30pm on 1st March, people lit candles and shared the poignant moment on social media with #ShineALight, spreading the word to millions.

Singer Alfie Boe shared a meaningful moment with his candle – specially made by and gifted to Brain Tumour Research – in memory of his father, who died of a brain tumour when Alfie was 23.

Bridgerton actress Adjoa Andoh remembered her dear friend, poet, musician and actor Benjamin Zephaniah, who died eight weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumour last December aged 65.

And pop/rock band McFly helped #ShineALight for their good friend Tom Parker  from boy band The Wanted who passed away aged 33 from a glioblastoma (GBM) in March 2022.

Throughout the month, more than 50 buildings across the country were bathed in yellow or pink as part of our Light Up The UK campaign to help raise awareness. This included the iconic Blackpool Tower, in memory of Zara Taylor, 33, who died of a GBM last October, and the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool.


The SSE Hydro in Glasgow was a kaleidoscope of colour, the walls of Cardiff Castle were yellow and pink for Molly Fenton who is living with a brain tumour, and Ellesmere Parish Church was among several buildings and houses in the locality which lit up for Ella McCreadie who passed away in her sleep, aged 13, of an undiagnosed high-grade diffuse glioma.

Meanwhile, Laura Kurtal was joined by family and friends at Warwick Castle which glowed in memory of son Taylan who was just six years old when he died of a medulloblastoma in February.

Our Patron, Antiques Roadshow expert Theo Burrell, who is living with a GBM, joined more than 50 fellow patients from across Scotland at Holyrood on 14th March to demand more investment to help find a cure and improve treatments.

Addressing Scottish Parliament, including First Minister Humza Yousaf, Theo, 37, said: "I'm not going to grow old and I'm very unlikely to see my son become a teenager."

The mum of one added: “To be discussing brain tumours at the highest level of Government is so significant, and we are determined more is done by those in Holyrood to improve the way brain tumour patients are treated in Scotland.”

Theo also starred in a special film shown on BBC One’s Morning Live show (watch at 23 minutes 10 seconds) that focused on groundbreaking clinical research at our Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London. The study found that high-grade brain tumours, such as GBM, astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, can be detected with a simple blood test. The new technique could make a huge difference to patients, speeding up diagnosis and treatment and avoiding invasive, risky surgery.

Presented by TV doctor and author Dr Ranj, Dr Nelofer Syed and consultant neurosurgeon Kevin O’Neill, who lead the team at Imperial, also appeared in the film.

On 19th March, campaigners, patients and politicians gathered at Westminster to launch our Manifesto, It is time to do things differently, which calls on the Government to declare brain tumours a clinical priority and to release more funding for research into the disease.

Actor and producer Craig Russell, who recently played Mark Antony in Netflix drama Queen Cleopatra, spoke to MPs (including Derek Thomas MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours, pictured below with Craig) to highlight the urgent need for change. The father of two, 46, spoke movingly about being diagnosed with a meningioma last year and undergoing surgery, which resulted in having part of his skull replaced.

And last but by no means least, we ended Brain Tumour Awareness Month in style with our biggest fundraising event, Wear A Hat Day. So many of you donned hats – from bonnets to bowlers, Stetsons to sombreros – enjoyed fundraising events in schools, offices and in your communities, donated what you could, and posted on social media to see the month out with a mighty bang.

A day of radio coverage across the UK, from Belfast to Cornwall, helped rouse the nation into hat-wearing action with supporters Kelsey Parker, who was married to Tom Parker, Emily Penwright, who lost her husband Simon last November to a GBM, and Theo Burrell all lending their voices to our campaign.

On the big day (28th March) a horde of household names took part in Wear A Hat Day including singer Michael Ball OBE (above), comedian Phill Jupitus, Coronation Street star Simon Gregson, Geordie Shore star and influencer Charlotte Crosby, interior designer and TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Gogglebox star Lisa Baggs (below) and comedian and YouTuber ManLikeHaks.

In South Wales, staff at the Facilities Department at the Grange Hospital, Cwmbran, held their first Wear A Hat Day coffee morning in recognition of the underfunding that research into brain tumours receives.

Meanwhile in Surrey, dance fitness instructor Karen Muir, who runs Purple Zumba, honoured her best friend 10 years after her death from a brain tumour with a special Wear a Hat Day fundraiser. Karen and her 35-strong Zumba crew (main picture at top and below) all danced in hats to raise almost £500. She said: “I set up a glitter station at the back of the room so when people arrived, they could glitter themselves up, put their hats on and take silly photos. We had so much fun.”

And a Wear a Hat Day lunch with a raffle, auction and games in Buckingham hosted by Sue Farrington Smith (below), our former Chief Executive and now Trustee, raised more than £1,200. It was attended by 30 guests including Buckingham MP Greg Smith and Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart, as well as Sarah Long from Winslow who lost her son Oscar aged six in 2002 – a year after Sue lost her niece, Alison Phelan, aged seven.

A huge thank you to all of you who supported us this Brain Tumour Awareness Month and helped us to reach more people than ever before. You can help keep the momentum going by making a regular or one-off donation, getting involved in a fundraising activity or campaigning with us throughout 2024.

Related reading:

Back to Latest News