A BITTERSWEET victory has been won by a bereaved Rugby family as their campaign to raise awareness for brain tumour research reached a crucial milestone.
The Realf family’s online petition, which was launched on the one-year anniversary of the loss of loving brother and son Stephen, has reached the 100,000 signatures required to be considered for debate by the House of Commons.
Stephen, who died of a brain tumour in August 2014 aged only 26, was training to become an RAF pilot when he was first diagnosed at the age of 19.
Backed by national charity Brain Tumour Reseach, the petition quickly gained momentum and prompted the first ever inquiry by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. Stephen’s sister and parents were among those called to give evidence in front of a government panel.
Stephen’s sister Maria said: “I’m delighted the petition has passed 100,000 signatures and continues to climb.
“Although it is too late to save my brother, I hope his legacy will raise awareness and help other families in future. I would like to thank every single person who has taken the time to sign and share the petition.
“Now I look forward to our voices being heard in the corridors of power. One day we will find a cure for this cruel disease.”
Peter Realf, Stephen’s father, who has been tracking the petition’s progress, said he was amazed it had gathered last-minute momentum.
He told the Observer: “We saw it was hovering around 80,000 signatures with only just over a week to go, but we have seen a huge influx of signatures right in the last moments the petition had before its deadline.
“It already broke through the required target of 100,000 signatures easily, with days to spare. It just shows there is still real support for the cause, even if it gathered slowly.”
Hugh Adams, Head of External Affairs at Brain Tumour Research said: “The e-petition is a great example of democracy in action. The Realf family have worked tirelessly and the tremendous response is an indication of just how many families are touched by brain tumours.”
“We are striving to fund a network of seven dedicated research centres whilst challenging the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research. Help us fund the fight. Together we will find a cure.”
The petition, currently with more than 116,000 signatures, is currently awaiting a date for its official debate in parliament.