Remarkable Rugby family win key backing for brain tumour research funding campaign

Peter Realf, Mark Pawsey MP, Maria Lester and Liz Realf at Westminster. Photo: Brain Tumour Research. NNL-160420-110233001
Peter Realf, Mark Pawsey MP, Maria Lester and Liz Realf at Westminster. Photo: Brain Tumour Research. NNL-160420-110233001

The family of Stephen Realf who died of a brain tumour in 2014, aged 26, saw MPs turn out in force on Monday to back their campaign for better research funding.

On the first anniversary of his death last August, one of Stephen’s sisters, Maria Lester, launched a petition calling for more funding.

This led to the first inquiry held by the Petitions Select Committee, which produced last month’s landmark report acknowledging, ‘Successive Governments have failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades’.

And on the back of that a parliamentary debate was held on Monday with Maria, and mum and dad Peter and Liz Realf in attendance.

Peter said: “I was greatly relieved to find the Grand Committee Hall packed with MPs.

“The motion was read by Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee. Once again, she raised all the key points in an informed and passionate speech which set the tone for the debate.

“I believe 31 MPs spoke. This was an amazing display of cross-party unity for the greater good, and it was described by MP Stewart Jackson as ‘The Commons at its best’. I would whole heartedly agree with that.

“I would like to thank Mark Pawsey MP for speaking on our behalf. I am also delighted that the Government has accepted that ‘more needs to be done’ in respect of brain tumours.”

A package of measures was announced and Mr Realf added: “We are encouraged by these statements and will now monitor events to ensure progress is made in a timely manner, not forgetting that more than 80 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour die within five years.”

The family have worked closely with the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Its chief executive Sue Farrington Smith said: “I am immensely proud that, with the support of thousands of patients, families and activists, the woeful underfunding of this dreadful disease has now been acknowledged.

For more on its work, go to: www.braintumourreasearch.org