Milton Keynes charity boss unites crew of campaigners to help find a cure for brain tumours

    The boss of a local charity based in Milton Keynes is leading a crew of campaigners to help find a cure for brain tumours.

    Dan Knowles, CEO of Brain Tumour Research, will captain a dozen people on Saturday, July 6 for the 21st Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival. This year the water-based race is in aid of the Shenley-based charity which works nationally to help find a cure for all types of brain tumours.

    More than 40 teams are expected to compete over the 200m racecourse, watched by several thousand spectators at Willen Lake.

    Rowing alongside the charity boss is a line-up of activists who have all been affected by the disease and are demanding more investment into researching brain tumours.

    Dan, 53, has lost three family friends to brain tumours in as many years. He said, “We are grateful to be supported by the community through a wonderful family-friendly event.

    In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour and one in three people knows someone affected by the disease. It’s outrageous that we can fill a boat of people who all have their own story of brain tumours, yet research is still so grossly underfunded compared to other cancers. We want more investment in research so we can find a cure.”

    The team hoping to make waves of change includes Brain Tumour Research trustee Jack Goodwin from Newton Leys, who lost his mum, Debbie, in February 2023, and Danny Upton from Whitehouse, whose 11-year-old son, Jude, died of a medulloblastoma, a common type of cancerous brain tumour in children, just six months ago.

    Phil Forsyth from Leighton Buzzard is taking part after his older brother was recently diagnosed. Thomas Bisson has been inspired to row by his dad who is living with the side effects of a low-grade astrocytoma. Bill Corner from Northampton is the oldest member of the team; the 76 year old lost his wife Sue to a brain tumour four years ago.

    Completing the crew is Gavin White, 44, from Ampthill who has recently finished radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment following his diagnosis of a glioblastoma (GBM) in August 2023. He is being supported by close friend, Kevin Lake.

    Several other members of Brain Tumour Research will be taking on the challenge.

    Dan Knowles said, “It might get a little competitive out there on the water, but we all want the same thing, to find a cure for all types of brain tumours.”

    He added: “At the start of the year, our charity changemakers delivered a petition with 81,000 signatures calling for more research investment to Number 10 Downing Street. Also at Westminster in March we launched a manifesto, calling for the UK Government to declare brain tumours a clinical priority, and in June, we reported on a clinical trial, developed by scientists at Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth repurposing HIV and AIDS drugs for brain tumour patients.”

    He concluded, “We are grateful to each person who has helped us so far, but there is so much more to be done if we are to improve survival rates and patient outcomes. We have seen great improvements in other cancers but need to see the same for brain tumours, for the sake of the 16,000 people in the UK diagnosed every year.”

    Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

    To find out how you can get involved in the Dragon Boat Festival 2024, please visit:

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