We were delighted to welcome our patron, Earl Spencer, to support us at a major fundraising event recently in the City of London. Here, he explains why he is committed to our cause.
I became involved with The Brain Tumour Charity a long time ago, when it was known as the Samantha Dickson Research Trust. My association with the latter arose from an invitation from Samantha's parents, Neil and Angela, to be part of the charity established in their late daughter's name: Samantha had died from a brain tumour, aged just 16. As the father of several children, I did not hesitate for a second from joining up as one of the charity's patrons: it was the very least I could do, to show solidarity in the face of tragedy.
Neil and Angela are two remarkable people, as well as being extremely devoted parents. They decided to address the tragedy of their daughter's loss by tackling what they saw as a pair of great wrongs, each of which had severely compromised Samantha's chances of survival – the appalling lack of research investment into brain tumours, and also the inadequate support available to those battling them.
They have since succeeded in building the largest dedicated brain tumour charity in the UK – a feat that has seen them being recognized with MBEs in the 2015 New Year's Honours List.
Despite their brilliant efforts, and their undoubted successes, brain tumours remain the number one killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK. Perhaps this is partly explained by the underfunding of research into this deadly affliction – less than 2% of the £500 million applied to cancer research each year is aimed at conquering brain tumours.
My grandmother died of a brain tumour, in 1972, in her seventies. She was the most lovely lady, dedicating her life to helping others, and recognition of that fact is found in the hospice in nearby Northampton being named “Cynthia Spencer", in her honour.
While my grandmother lived a full life, others are cut down in their childhood or youth by the same, appalling, disease. In being a patron of The Brain Tumour Charity, I want to show my support for curbing brain tumours' dark powers, and for turning the tide against a force that has claimed too many young lives.
Recently I was able to represent this charity at ICAP's charity day – when one of the most prestigious offices in the City of London becomes a place of enormous fun, and of enormous fundraising: all the dealers dress up in fancy dress (from Super Mario to Minions, from Darth Vader to the cast of The Great Gatsby), and the commissions from financial deals are given to good causes. The Brain Tumour Charity was lucky enough to be one of those beneficiaries, receiving £100,000.
It is my sincere hope that funds like those will go some way towards a campaign that will be won: meaning that those diagnosed with a brain tumour have increasingly better chances of survival, until it is an affliction we can eventually tackle with huge optimism.