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Press release

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

Heart-breaking loss inspires dad’s cycling challenge

Heart-breaking loss inspires dad’s cycling challenge

A Warwickshire dad who lost his step-father to a brain tumour is gearing up to take on a cycling challenge to help find a cure for the disease.

Shaun Sparrow, 35, who lives in Stratford-Upon-Avon, is clipping in for charity and aiming to raise awareness of the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40. By signing up to the Brain Tumour Research charity’s national On Yer Bike campaign, which runs throughout February, Shaun hopes to raise £300.

Shaun, a dad of four, who works as supervisor at technology company ByBox, will clock up as many miles as he can after work and at the weekends. His goal is to cycle at least 300km.

There are very personal motivations for Shaun’s challenge. His step-father, Steve Horton, a popular gardening team leader at Leicester University, who lived in Barwell, Leicestershire, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), in October 2016. He tragically passed away on Christmas Eve the following year, aged 61.

Shaun said: “Steve was a man I looked up to and considered a friend. He and my mum Sharon had been together for more than 15 years. He was funny, kind and supportive, and was always happy to help wherever he could without ever expecting anything in return.

“Steve was rarely ever ill. His diagnosis came without warning, after he suffered a loss of sensation down one side of his body. It was as if someone had flicked a switch and his life would never be the same again. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumour, and a tough combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but continued to decline.”

Shaun added: “It broke my heart to see Steve become so ill and lose his life to this awful disease. His death motivated me to fundraise and raise awareness and that is why I am participating in On Yer Bike. I hope to inspire others to take part in the campaign and I’m looking forward to the cycling challenge.”

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease, and Brain Tumour Research is proud to be changing this.

This year’s On Yer Bike event, which was launched by former cycling champion Phil Corley, is expected to be popular with cyclists of all abilities. From those who enjoy spin classes at the gym, to road cyclists, and particularly those who are training for the big events as this year, for the first time, participants can track their progress on an all-new website Cyclists upload training and event mileage from their wearable technology and so compete against each other on an individual and team basis.

Carrie Bater, senior community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research in the Midlands, said: “We are extremely thankful for Shaun’s support and we hope he inspires cyclists of all abilities to take part in On Yer Bike for this important cause.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated Research Centres of Excellence in the UK; it also campaigns for the Government and the 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 calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To sponsor Shaun and follow his progress go to

For more information please go to 



For further information, please contact:

Annie Slinn at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867221 or 07592 502708 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 ground-breaking research 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) which published its report Brain Tumours A cost too much to bear? in 2018. Led by the charity, the report examines the economic and social impacts of a brain tumour diagnosis. We are also represented on the Steering Group 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
  • Historically, 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.