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Press release

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

Hundreds inspired to Run for Gem

Hundreds inspired to Run for Gem

Runners turned out in their hundreds to Run for Gem at Colchester’s Castle Park on Saturday morning, 8 December, raising more than £4,000.

The 5K run which was inspired by Colchester’s Gemma Edgar, currently receiving end-of-life care at St Helena Hospice, began and ended at the bandstand, where close to 300 participants’ flagging energy was boosted with cake in return for donations to the Brain Tumour Research charity and St Helena Hospice.

Gemma Edgar, 33, formerly a paediatric nurse at Colchester General and mum to four-year-old Noah and Dylan, six, was diagnosed at the age of 29 with an aggressive and incurable glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour. Her friend Cara Greenley organised Run for Gem, having been shocked to learn that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Cara, 33, of the Willows, Colchester, who first met Gemma when they were 13-year-olds at St Helena School, said: “It seemed very appropriate to organise Run for Gem as Gemma really enjoyed running, including doing the Castle Park Run whenever she could and we both ran the London Marathon this year.

“Saturday was absolutely phenomenal – beyond my wildest dreams! I had originally envisaged about 20 runners, but with Running Colchester getting behind the event, we ended up with hundreds and have raised around £4,200 with more donations coming in even today.

“I was a marshal on the day, helped by a team of Running Colchester supporters, and to see the sea of people pounding past was stunning. I particularly want to thank Running Colchester, everyone who donated cakes and Gemma’s family for their incredible support. It was very special seeing Gemma’s dad and brother Andy and Lee Relf taking part.”

Andy said: “Gemma got into running after she was diagnosed as something good for her mental health as well as her physical well-being. The big bonus which she hadn’t anticipated was the amazing community she entered into. All the runners got behind her and their love and support spurred her on and meant so much to her. This was demonstrated in huge proportions to the family on Saturday with people who don’t even know Gemma, but who had been touched by her story, taking part. It means so much to Barbara (Gemma’s mum), Lee and me and gives us strength too.”

Lee, who along with Cara said a few words before the start on Saturday, said: “I was so proud to see how many people had been inspired by my sister to take part and grateful to everyone who helped raise such a fabulous amount for two very worthy causes. I also want to give a huge vote of thanks to Cara for organising such a brilliant event which she has said will now become an annual fundraiser.”

Paula Rastrick, community fundraising manager in the Central region for Brain Tumour Research, said: “For too long brain tumours have been a neglected cancer. We are so grateful to Gemma and her family for their support and we thank Cara for organising Run for Gem and all who got involved to raise such an amazing sum.”

Money raised for Brain Tumour Research helps fund dedicated UK Research Centres of Excellence where scientists are focused on improving outcomes for patients and, ultimately, finding a cure. Historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours and the charity is lobbying the government and the larger cancer charities to increase this.

It’s not too late to add your donation inspired by Gemma. To donate to Brain Tumour Research go to

To donate to St Helena Hospice go to


For further information, please contact:
Liz Fussey at Brain Tumour Research on 07811 068357 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
  • 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.