Couple who lost son Ollie Gardiner to brain tumour at 13 give £187,000 to Queen Mary university to find cure
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 November 2019
A couple grieving for their son Ollie Gardiner who died from brain tumour when he was 13 are marking today's second anniversary by donating £187,500 they raised for research in east London to help find a cure.
Their donation is paying for a researcher over the next five years at Queen Mary University's Whitechapel campus.
Post-doctoral researcher Sara Badodi is now working for the Brain Tumour Research charity at the university where Ollie's father Peter himself graduated as an engineer.
The charity's research centre is working on ways to inhibit the spread of aggressive medulloblastoma, the most common brain cancer in children and the type that took Ollie's young life.
"I received the phone call that totally changed our lives," his dad Peter said. "A mass the size of a golf ball had been found in the back of Ollie's brain and it had to come out fast."
Ollie had 10 hours of surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He defied the odds when he started secondary school while having chemotherapy.
Ollie's family and friends raised nearly £500,000 for pioneering treatment at Harley Street and experimental treatment in Germany.
But Jane and Peter Gardiner lost Ollie on November 19, 2017, just 30 months after being diagnosed.
"We feel tremendous guilt that we failed to keep Ollie alive despite all the treatments we pursued," Peter added. "But the sad fact is that much more research is needed to find a cure for the biggest cancer killer of children."
Ollie's mum Jane said: "He was a fun-loving boy, so full of life, with a great sense of humour and loved the outdoors and sports."
The Brain Tumour Research charity campaigns for national spending on research to increase to £35 million a year in line with research into other cancers.
The charity's chief executive Sue Farrington Smith said: "The tragedy of Ollie shows that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any age. Fewer than one-in-five victims survive beyond five years. We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue."
Sue lost her seven-year-old niece Alison Phelan to brain tumour and was horrified to discover how little funding was going into research and was determined to change this.
Donations to Brain Tumour Research can be made online and be indicated for Ollie's Fund.