Family of Rugby’s Stephen Realf take brain tumour funding fight to Parliament

Stephen Realf's family are campaigning for more money to be spent on brain tumour research after he died in 2014
Stephen Realf's family are campaigning for more money to be spent on brain tumour research after he died in 2014

The family of a young Rugby man who died of a brain tumour have achieved a milestone in their campaign for more research funding for the disease.

Stephen Realf was training to become an RAF pilot when he was first diagnosed at the age of 19. He died, aged 26, in August 2014.

To mark the first anniversary of the family’s loss, Stephen’s sister Maria Lester wrote a moving account of his battle which was published in the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine. She also took the opportunity to launch an e-petition calling for more government funding for research.

Backed by the national charity Brain Tumour Research, the petition quickly gained momentum. It prompted the first ever inquiry by the House of

Commons Petitions Committee and Stephen’s sister and parents were among those called to give evidence.

Last week the e-petition achieved the 100,000 signatures required to be considered for debate by the House of Commons.

Maria said: “I’m delighted that the petition has passed 100,000 signatures and continues to climb. Although it is too late to save my brother, I hope that 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.”

Hugh Adams, Head of External Affairs at Brain Tumour Research, said: “This 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. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to it.”

Hugh Adams, Head of External Affairs at Brain Tumour Research, said: “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.”

Brain Tumour Research helps fund an annual £1 million programme of research at its Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth.

Further partnerships announced last year with Plymouth University, Queen Mary

University of London, and Imperial College pave the way for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years.

Visit braintumourresearch.org