Together we will find a cure Donate
Together we will find a cure Donate

Press release

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

Hero guitarists strike chord for brain tumour cure

Hero guitarists strike chord for brain tumour cure

A huge electric guitar ensemble has taken place to raise funds to help scientists find a cure for brain tumours.

Nearly 200 musicians braved the heat to power-up and 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.

The World Record attempt was organised by David Pile, who lost his mother June Pile to a brain tumour. June died in March 2013 following a short and gruelling battle with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she died less than six months after her diagnosis.

Many of those who performed had been affected by the disease. Patient Sean Crossey, a 29-year-old software engineer from High Wycombe, was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma – an aggressive type of brain tumour – after suffering from mild seizures and severe headaches in August 2016.

Sean, who is currently having chemotherapy, said: “As a keen guitarist, I was privileged to take part in The Great Guitar Challenge. My friend told me about the event and I knew immediately I had to take part – it was such a fun challenge and for a cause close to my heart.”

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

Scott Fuller, lead singer of the band, said: “To begin with, the prospect of leading a performance with potentially hundreds of guitarists, seemed like it would be great fun.  Then we learned of the Brain Tumour Research charity and knew we just had to be involved.  It seemed the least we could do. David Bowie's ‘Heroes’ - a triumph of hope over adversity - was the perfect song choice.”

Julia Krajewska, a backing vocalist and guitarist in the band added: “It was great to perform with a mass of guitarists all raising money for a very worthy cause. The atmosphere was electric and I was thrilled to take part in such a unique event.”

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. 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.” 

For more information, visit:

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

Image credit: Dubbel Xposure Photography

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.