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Artist raising funds after losing both brother and husband to brain tumours

Nicola Durrant, from Oxfordshire, will raise funds at her Open Studios event in May – after losing brother Stephen, and husband David, to the same brain tumour type, ten years apart.

Three people smiling while standing on a hill with a village in the background - the woman in the centre is an artist who lost her brother and husband to a brain tumour

Meet Nicola, the artist raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity

A woman hugs a seated man from behind with apple trees in the background. The woman is Nicola, an artist raising funds for charity after the man, David, died from a brain tumour
Nicola and David

An artist from Sibford, Oxfordshire, who lost both her brother, and her husband, to brain tumours is opening her studio to the public next month, to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Nicola Durrant’s brother, Stephen Durrant, discovered he had a glioblastoma brain tumour – the most aggressive form of the disease in adults – in 2008, and sadly lost his life to the disease in 2009. In a cruel coincidence, ten years later, in 2018, Nicola’s husband David was diagnosed with the same type of brain tumour. Nicola said:

“David had started to drop things and tripped on steps a few times. We put it down to him getting clumsy. But then one day when we were at a friend’s house having supper, he suddenly couldn’t stand and looked as though he was drunk, even though he’d not had anything to drink.

“We ended up going to the emergency department at the John Radcliffe hospital for a scan, only to be told by the doctor, “We’ve seen a little glioblastoma in your brain.”

“We looked at each other. Because of Stephen, we knew what was in store.” 

Lack of progress

David underwent “awake” brain surgery, and embarked on chemo and radiotherapy. Having helped Stephen through his illness, Nicola and David were shocked to find out that treatment for glioblastomas had not moved on in a decade. Nicola said:

“It was only after David had had his brain surgery, radiotherapy and chemo that we realised that the treatment for this type of tumour – glioblastoma – hadn’t really progressed since my brother’s treatment ten years prior. It was shocking and incredibly upsetting to find this out. There have been so many advancements made with other cancer treatments. We just stupidly assumed that this was the case with brain tumours, too.

“Knowing what the outcome was going to be was the worst thing with David’s diagnosis. I tried to put the images of my brother’s demise out of my mind as I needed to focus 100% on getting David all the help and treatment available.”

Sadly, David died in 2019, just 11 months after his diagnosis. And Nicola is determined to do her bit to raise funds, and awareness of brain tumours.

Artist raising funds in Oxfordshire Artweek

An abstract painting of a vine of flowers

An abstract painting with a plant and dragonfly in the foreground and misty trees in the background
An abstract painting of a tree on a hillside

Open Studio May 4th-12th

Nicola is opening her studio (site 40) between 4th–12th May as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks, with a percentage of sales from her paintings going to The Brain Tumour Charity. Nicola said:

“I sometimes call my art work dreamscapes, as most of my paintings come straight from my imagination. I paint peaceful, calm and tranquil places that I want to escape to when things get tough! Painting for me is like meditation and when I’m ‘in the flow’ hours can pass in the blink of an eye.

Oxfordshire Artweeks was formed in 1981 and is the largest Open Studio event in the country. It takes place every May and is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the visual arts, or just plain nosey!

“Hundreds of artists open their studios and homes for people to visit and there’s always a fabulous atmosphere, often with lots of tea and cake thrown in. I’d urge anyone in the area to pop along and get involved.”

For Nicola, the event is a valuable opportunity to raise not only vital funds, but valuable awareness of brain tumours. She said:

“In the 21st century, medical science should have moved on and found better treatments for brain tumours by now.

“I feel so sad that there are hundreds of people out there about to experience what I’ve been through. They will watch their loved one die and there’s absolutely nothing we can do to help, except raise desperately needed money.”

You can become a fundraiser too!

If you are inspired by Nicola’s story, there are lots of ways you can get involved. Find out more about how you can organise your own charity fundraiser, and raise funds to move us all further, faster towards a cure.