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Press release

Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years

Father and daughter take part in electrifying guitar challenge for research into brain tumours

Father and daughter take part in electrifying guitar challenge for research into brain tumours

A father and daughter bereaved by a brain tumour have taken part in a world record guitar-playing event to help fund research into the disease.

In blazing sunshine, Matthew Slinn, 58, and Annie Slinn, 22, joined nearly 200 musicians power up to play David Bowie’s anthemic “Heroes” at Ealing Blues Festival. The Great Guitar Challenge on Sunday 22nd July aimed to break the world record for the largest electric guitar ensemble and raised over £3,600 for the Brain Tumour Research charity.

Judith Slinn, wife to Matthew and mum to Annie, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011. A teacher at Staverton Primary School near Daventry, she underwent radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy but passed away in May 2016 at the age of 54, leaving Matthew and sisters Annie and Beth.

Keen musician Annie played one of her mum’s favourite U2 songs at the funeral at Great Brington, the family’s home village. She played the same guitar – her favourite Les Paul – for the record attempt. Just 15 when her mum was diagnosed, Annie now works as PR officer at the Brain Tumour Research charity in Milton Keynes.

Annie said: “Mum was always more concerned about us than her own situation and was determined that her diagnosis and treatment didn’t affect our studies.

“In my role at the charity I talk to patients and families who have been affected by this dreadful disease and, when I feel it’s appropriate, I tell them about my mum. It feels really good to talk about her and to feel as if I am helping others as we work towards finding a cure for brain tumours. It is turning a massive negative into a positive and I think Mum would be proud.”

Matthew, who served for 30 years as an officer in Northamptonshire police, said: “Losing Judith was a terrible shock to us all. When she was first diagnosed it was awful, but we never expected she would die from the disease. As a keen guitarist and a huge David Bowie fan, I was privileged to take part in The Great Guitar Challenge with my daughter and I want to continue to fundraise for this worthy cause.”

Guitarists came from as far afield as Germany and Ireland to take part in the event. The electric ensemble was accompanied by David Bowie tribute The Thin White Duke, adding a glimmer of stardust to the day.

The record attempt was supported by guitar amplification company Blackstar, which provided a free Blackstar micro Fly 3 amp to all participants. Brighton-based guitar shop GAK donated a Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster as a raffle prize.

Michael Thelwall, Head of Community Fundraising for the Brain Tumour Research charity, said: “The Great Guitar Challenge was spectacular and we thank Annie and Matthew for performing. We needed 450 musicians to break the record so didn’t manage it this time but we’re already thinking about repeating the event next year.

“It was a novel way to raise awareness of brain tumours which kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. We are very grateful to all the guitarists who took part in the challenge, which was a noisy reminder of just how many families are affected by brain tumours.” 

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To donate to the Brain Tumour Research charity, go to:

For further information, please contact:
Annie Slinn at the Brain Tumour Research charity on 01908 867239 or 07591 206545 or

Notes to Editors 

Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable scientific research into brain tumours, and we are a leading voice calling for greater support and action for research into what scientists are calling the last battleground against cancer.

We are building a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence whilst influencing the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more nationally.

We welcome recent funding announcements for research into brain tumours from the UK Government and Cancer Research UK – £65 million pledged over the next five years. However, this potential funding of £13 million a year comes with a catch – money will only be granted to quality research proposals and, due to the historic lack of investment, there may not be enough of these applications that qualify for grants from this pot.

We want research funding parity with breast cancer and leukaemia. We are calling for a £30-35 million investment every year for research into brain tumours in order to fund the basic research groundwork needed to accelerate the translation from laboratory discoveries into clinical trials and fast-track new therapies for this devastating disease.

The Brain Tumour Research charity is a powerful campaigning organisation and represents the voice of the brain tumour community across the UK. We helped establish and provide the ongoing Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Brain Tumours (APPGBT). We are supporting the crucial APPGBT 2018 Inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours and will publish their report in the autumn. We are also a key influencer in the development strategy for the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. 

Key statistics on brain tumours: 

  • Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age 
  • Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
  • Just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours
  • In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
  • Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia
  • Brain tumours kill more men under 45 than prostate cancer
  • Brain tumours kill more women under 35 than breast cancer
  • Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers

Please quote Brain Tumour Research as the source when using this information. Additional facts and statistics are available from our website. We can also provide case studies and research expertise for the media.