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Charity founders launch legacy fund in daughter’s name

The Fleet-based Brain Tumour Charity was founded in 1996 by Neil and Angela Dickson after the tragic death of their beloved daughter Samantha, aged just 17.

The Brain Tumour Charity is now the largest funder of research into brain tumours in the world, leading pioneering research projects for new treatments currently funding nearly £37million, and providing support for the many thousands of people diagnosed with a brain tumour in the UK each year.

Now Neil and Angela are launching a new legacy fund in their daughter’s name to help The Brain Tumour Charity fund research into high-grade gliomas, the type of brain tumour that Samantha was diagnosed with.

Angela said: “Following Samantha’s death, we received £20,000 donations at her funeral to be used for research into brain tumours. When we looked into how to spend the money, we were amazed to find there was no dedicated brain tumour charity in this country.

“There was also a total lack of research and support for families and patients with brain tumours. This was despite the fact that brain tumours were the second most common childhood cancer after leukaemia and killed more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer.”

“We then made the life-changing decision to establish the first dedicated brain tumour charity in the UK which we called The Samantha Dickson Research Trust. The Charity was officially registered in February 1997 with an impressive Board of Trustees and a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board. Our first Patron was Dawn French, and other high profile Patrons such as Earl Spencer, followed shortly after.”

The Charity, originally launched from the couple’s home study in Hampshire, quickly grew and funds started to mount. This enabled Neil and Angela to start funding a substantial research programme at institutes throughout the UK. In 2000, the decision was made to expand the Charity and take on its first paid employee.

Over last 20 years, the charity’s supporters have made significant advances in research and care possible, and the organisation has merged with several others to become The Brain Tumour Charity as it is known today.

In September 2020, Angela became an Emeritus Founder Trustee, retiring from the main Trustee Board, but is still very much involved with the charity. Neil and Angela decided that this would be an opportune time to set up The Samantha Dickson Fund, a supporter group within The Brain Tumour Charity, making sure Samantha’s name will never be lost.

Angela said: “It also gives us the opportunity to make sure that all the money raised in Samantha’s name will be restricted to high-grade glioma , the tumour type that she had. When we started The Charity we raised money for research into adult and childhood brain tumours in general. At that stage it was impossible to believe that in our lifetime we could get a new treatment for Samantha’s tumour type.

“Due to the progress made this has now changed and it would be a great tribute to her if we can achieve this over the next five years. If the fund is as successful as our earlier fund-raising, we hope to set up a Paediatric High Grade Glioma Centre in Europe with strategic International links. This would be based on the Charity’s Paediatric Low Grade Glioma Centre in Heidelberg.”

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