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Press release

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

Young girl who died of a brain tumour commemorated at research centre

Young girl who died of a brain tumour commemorated  at research centre

A young girl who passed away, aged three, from a brain tumour has led to thousands being raised to help fund scientific research into finding a cure for the disease.

Jennifer Chambers’ death in 2004, led to the setting up of the charity Clowns in the Sky as a lasting legacy.  

On Monday 11th June, Donna Byrne, 52, from Romford, who is Development Manager for Clowns in the Sky, and Patron of the charity, ex-West Ham football legend, Tony Cottee of Leigh, along with Jennifer’s parents from South London, visited the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University London to learn more about the research and to place a tile on the Wall of Hope at the research centre. 

The centre, one of four receiving funding from the Brain Tumour Research charity, is focused on research to improve treatments for patients with brain tumours and, ultimately, finding a cure. Each tile laid on the wall represents the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research.

Led by Prof. Silvia Marino, in collaboration with University College London, the team at the centre are studying glioblastoma tumours – one of the most aggressive and deadly types of brain cancer and the tumour that Jennifer died from.

Clowns in the Sky, which works with the national charity Brain Tumour Research, sponsors entertainers in children’s wards in 37 hospitals across England and also supplies arts and crafts and sensory trolleys to bring a bit of fun to young patients too ill to access hospital playrooms. It also sponsors entertainer visits to many of these hospitals, bringing smiles and laughter not only to children, but their parents too. 

The charity also gives financial support to families who have a child with a brain tumour to help with travel and everyday living costs, as well as helping to fund research into brain tumours – Clowns in the Sky has donated yearly and their total donation will exceed £60,000 this year.  

Donna, whose 15-year-old son, Niall is at Brentwood County High, said: “It is such a horrible thought that your child could go before you. I cannot imagine the pain. I remember my grandad saying when my dad passed away that he shouldn't have seen three of his children buried; children should outlive the parents. Jennifer was so young, Lynn and Richard are inspirational, and Jennifer lives on through her legacy. 

“It’s great to be doing something so positive out of a truly horrible experience. The charity is really grateful for the tremendous support it enjoys throughout Essex. Recently the St John's Lodge of the Freemasons raised over £1,000 from a magic night, but we also organise all sorts of fundraising events from skydives to sponsored walks, as well as an annual ball held in December. Last year’s glittering event was held at The Ivy Hill in Margaretting, and was attended by 200 guests, raising over £10,000. This year we have secured Stockbrook Manor in Billericay as we don’t want to turn anyone away and can now seat up to 270.”

Tony commented: “It’s an honour to visit one of the Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence and see where all the research takes place. I agreed to become a patron of the charity having discovered that brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and that the life expectancy for brain tumour patients is so poor with less than 20% surviving beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers. And I can see what the charity brings to children and their families when we go on hospital visits; Clowns in the Sky is about bringing smiles and we certainly deliver.

“The tile we placed symbolises not only the money Clowns in the Sky has raised to help fund research into brain tumours, but also commemorates Jennifer, as well as honouring all children lost to brain tumours or living with the serious long-lasting effects caused by this disease and its treatment. ”


Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of the Brain Tumour Research charity, said: “Clowns in the Sky have raised an incredible amount to support vital research and we’re really pleased they have been to see the amazing work taking place at Queen Mary University London, and also place a tile on the Wall of Hope. Stories like Jennifer’s remind us all that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”

To make a donation in memory of Jennifer Chambers go to www.clownsinthesky.org/donations/ 

For information about Brain Tumour Research go to www.braintumourresearch.org 


For further information, please contact:
Liz Fussey at Brain Tumour Research on 07811 068357 or Liz@braintumourresearch.org 



Notes to Editors 

Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK focused on funding sustainable research to find a cure for brain tumours. We have established a game-changing network of world-class Research Centres of Excellence in the UK. Embracing passionate member charities nationwide, over £6 million was raised towards research and support during 2017.

We are campaigning to see the national spend on research into brain tumours increased to £30 - £35 million a year, in line with breast cancer and leukaemia. The unprecedented success of our 2015 petition led to the 2016 Westminster Hall debate and Brain Tumour Research taking a leading role in the Government’s Task and Finish Working Group convened to tackle the historic underfunding for research with the report being published in 2018.

Key statistics on brain tumours: 

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

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age 
Incidences of, and deaths from, brain tumours are increasing.

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

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