On Thursday 23rd February, we were delighted to open the doors of the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London to supporters for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 80 people attended the event, which opened with presentations from the Centre leads, consultant neurosurgeon Mr Kevin O’Neill and Dr Nel Syed. They spoke about how the Imperial team is working on a number of significant research projects, including exploring ways to develop new tools, techniques and procedures to improve and optimise the complex science of neurosurgery; how artificial intelligence can help provide greater insights into personalised treatments; and how the effectiveness of radiotherapy for patients with glioblastoma (GBM) can be improved.
Dr Nel Syed and Mr Kevin O’Neill introduce supporters to the research being undertaken at Imperial
Afterwards, attendees were taken on a tour of the labs and had the opportunity to speak to the scientists about their pioneering research. Many also placed tiles on the Wall of Hope, which was relaunched in its striking new design at the event.
Amongst those who attended was Wendy Fulcher, who set up the Brain Tumour Research Campaign – a founding Member Charity of Brain Tumour Research – after losing her husband John to a glioblastoma (GBM) 22 years ago, in June 2001. Together with Brain Tumour Research (of which Wendy is chair of the trustees), BTRC opened our Imperial Centre in 2015 as part of John’s legacy.
Wendy with the tiles she placed in memory of John
Adam D’Aubney lost his mum Deb to a GBM just days before the event. Together with his girlfriend Gemma Lewis, Adam placed three tiles on the Wall of Hope in honour of his “wonderfully fierce, strong-willed and inspirational” mum.
Gemma and Adam at the Wall of Hope
“Placing the tiles was particularly emotional given how recently Mum passed but it is lovely knowing there will be a permanent memorial of the legacy she helped create,” Adam said.
Adam with Deb and sister Kate
Following her own GBM diagnosis, Lizzie Parker raised thousands of pounds to find a cure. After her death in August 2021, Lizzie’s husband Paul has continued to fundraise in her memory, including by running the London Marathon last year.
He said: “It was especially poignant to be at Imperial myself as Lizzie and her dad Tom had visited the labs previously and she remained in contact with Nel Syed so that when Lizzie had her second surgery, she arranged for samples of her tumour to be collected and sent to Nel at Imperial. We have to believe that perhaps her samples will be a stepping stone towards a cure or more effective treatments.”
Paul and son Oscar
Adam Bradford was just 27 when he died from a grade 4 anaplastic oligodendroglioma in December 2019. Following his diagnosis, he and his family committed to fundraising for Brain Tumour Research, raising more than £32,000.
David and Adam cycled from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research
Adam’s dad David, stepmum Vickie and Vickie’s son Oliver placed 11 tiles inspired by Adam. Vickie said: “It was a proud moment for us all and Adam would be very proud too.”
Vickie, David and Oliver with Gary Curtis, Giles Cuthbertson and Martin Cosgrave who took part in their cycling challenges
Since her diagnosis four years ago, Abi Smith has been passionate about raising awareness and funds. She has inspired an army of fundraisers, including best friend Mary Fitzpatrick-Greening, who will run this year’s TCS London Marathon.
Mary, Abi’s sister Vicki, Abi, boyfriend Josh, Abi's mum Janet and dad Rob
After placing two tiles on the Wall of Hope, Abi said: “I was really looking forward to the day and knew it would be emotional. It was super interesting to listen to the talk about current research. Finishing the day by placing tiles on the Wall of Hope was a fitting way to end such an inspiring day.”
Abi with her tiles
Vicky Todd lost her dad Chris to a GBM in 2016 and set up a Fundraising Group called In Chris’ Memory which has raised an incredible sum of more than £41,000. Accompanied by her partner Graeme, she placed 12 tiles dedicated to her dad on the Wall of Hope and said she was “determined to put all my energy into doing what I can to raise money for research.”
Vicky with Chris, and with the tiles she placed in his honour
Our thanks go to all the supporters who attended the event at our Imperial Research Centre. To find out more about sponsoring a day of research, visit www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/sponsor-a-day