Landmark moment in Rugby family’s campaign

Brain Tumour Research chief executive Sue Farrington-Smith CEO, Peter Realf, Maria Lester and Liz Realf outside the House of Commons after they had given evidence to the inquiry. Photo: Brain Tumour Research.
Brain Tumour Research chief executive Sue Farrington-Smith CEO, Peter Realf, Maria Lester and Liz Realf outside the House of Commons after they had given evidence to the inquiry. Photo: Brain Tumour Research.
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A petition launched by the family of Stephen Realf, who died from a brain tumour, has led to a landmark report on the funding for research.

Stephen, from Boughton Vale, died in August 2014, aged 26, seven years after being diagnosed.

Determined to do something positive to mark the first anniversary of his death, one of his sisters, Maria Lester, launched the petition last summer.

It was headed ‘Fund more research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of under-40s’. It also quoted statistics from the charity Brain Tumour Research which said: ‘In 2014, brain tumours received 1.5% (£7.7 million) of the £498 million national spend on research into cancer.

‘At this rate, it could take 100 years to catch up with developments in other diseases.’

As the petition gathered momentum it triggered an inquiry and Monday’s groundbreaking publication of the report into the funding issue.

Dad Peter Realf who, along with Maria spoke at Monday’s launch, said: “The report is from the first inquiry held by the Petitions Select Committee, and the public web thread opened by the committee resulted in the largest public response ever received by any parliamentary select committee. This all-party report is very hard hitting talking as it does of ‘brain tumour patients have been let down by a lack of leadership from successive Governments’. It also states that: ‘Successive Governments have failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades’.”

A wave of publicity followed Monday’s publication and Mr Realf said: “The report is a real milestone for the brain tumour community in that somewhere in the corridors of power we’ve had people listen to us and we believe they want to make a difference.

“We are delighted at the comprehensive nature of the report which seems to address all of the significant points.”

Parliament will debate the petition on April 18, so Mr Realf said there was more work to be done before that, adding: “We now need to encourage the 120,000 people who signed the petition to make contact with their MP and ask them to attend the debate and make sure they are up to speed with the report.

“We’ve been aided by Brain Tumour Research and if people want to know what to do next, it is putting together a pack for people to help them approach their MP.”