Government responds to Rugby family's brain tumour campaign with £45m boost - The Rugby Observer

Government responds to Rugby family's brain tumour campaign with £45m boost

Andy Morris 8th Mar, 2018   0

A RUGBY family’s campaign to increase funding for brain tumour research – launched in memory of son and brother Stephen Realf who died of the condition aged 26 – has succeeded.

Maria Lester was ‘delighted’ at the government’s announcement of a £45million funding boost for research into brain tumours.

She launched a petition in 2015 – one year after the death of her brother Stephen, a trainee pilot with the RAF – which attracted over 120,000 signatures and became the first ever to prompt a parliamentary debate and report.

The report – which concluded “patients with brain tumours are failed at every stage” and urged the government to correct decades of under-funding – has prompted the Department of Health and Social Care to announce a £20million funding boost for research into brain tumours, and Cancer Research to invest a further £25million in two new centres at Cambridge and London.

Along with the charity Brain Tumour Research, Stephen’s family has been campaigning to address the historic underfunding of research into brain tumours, which kill more people under 40 than any other cancer.

Maria said: “When I started the petition in my bedroom back in 2015, I could never have imagined I would end up being invited to the Cabinet Offices.

“While there is still a long and difficult road ahead, this news does feel like an important step forwards. I’d urge people to keep raising awareness and funds until a cure can finally be found for the biggest cancer killer of children and young adults.”

Stephen and Maria’s father Peter Realf said: “At the start of the campaign, the family agreed if we could prevent just one family having to go through the devastation that a brain tumour diagnosis brings, it would be worth it.

“This magnificent injection of funding will I hope help prevent many families in years to come from losing their loved ones prematurely to this dreadful disease.”

Brain Tumour Research chief executive Sue Farrington Smith said history would record the announcement as a watershed moment for brain tumour research.

She said: “This marks a significant step forward in our journey to a cure. Our dream is coming true.

”It is a milestone that we are proud to have so significantly influenced but our work continues to achieve parity of funding.”

Parliamentary Petitions Committee chair Helen Jones said the funding was ‘hugely welcome and long overdue’.

She added: “Back in 2015, the government’s response to the petition gave us little reason to be confident that ministers had grasped the seriousness of the concerns that Maria and her family were raising.

“Today’s announcement is evidence the government has now fully accepted the urgent need for action. This is testament to the tireless campaigning of patients, their families and the brain tumour research community.”

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