Ollie Gardiner honoured at Brain Tumour Research where donations are helping find a cure

13-year-old Ollie Gardiner who tragically passed after a battle with brain cancer was remembered at a research centre where his family are sponsoring a researcher over the next five years to help find a cure for the disease.
Louise Butler, Jane Gardiner, Anna Fryer (Back), Shelagh Smale, Peter Gardiner, Tim Fryer (Front), Sam Fryer, Theo Gardiner, Paul Gellert, Catherine GellertLouise Butler, Jane Gardiner, Anna Fryer (Back), Shelagh Smale, Peter Gardiner, Tim Fryer (Front), Sam Fryer, Theo Gardiner, Paul Gellert, Catherine Gellert
Louise Butler, Jane Gardiner, Anna Fryer (Back), Shelagh Smale, Peter Gardiner, Tim Fryer (Front), Sam Fryer, Theo Gardiner, Paul Gellert, Catherine Gellert

Ollie Gardiner who lived in Aston Clinton with his parents Jane and Peter and younger brother Theo, passed away on 19 November 2017, two and a half years after he was first diagnosed with a high-grade medulloblastoma brain tumour.

The first indication that anything was wrong was when Ollie seemed to be suffering from a reoccurring tummy bug. Having been back and forth to the GP, his parents, Jane and Peter, paid privately for Ollie to have an MRI scan which revealed a mass the size of a golf ball.

Ollie underwent surgery and further emergency craniotomies, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Against the odds, he was able to start secondary school in 2015 at the John Colet in Wendover whilst undergoing further chemotherapy.

Tragically in September 2016, a routine scan revealed Ollie’s cancer had not only returned, but had spread throughout his brain and into his spine.

Ollie’s family and friends launched an appeal which raised almost £500,000 to fund pioneering treatment at Harley Street and in Germany, but nothing could save Ollie.

His parents, Jane and Peter, have donated £187,500 to fund Sara Badodi, a postdoctoral research assistant working within a strong team of researchers to develop new treatment strategies to inhibit the progression of aggressive medulloblastoma – the most common brain cancer seen in young children.

Less than two months after the second anniversary of Ollie’s death, Jane and Peter, accompanied by Theo, 13, paid tribute to Ollie by placing 12 commemorative tiles on the Wall of Hope at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The charity Brain Tumour Research funds a research centre at the university. The family will place further tiles at Brain Tumour Research’s other centres across the UK in Ollie’s memory.

Each tile, placed on Monday 6 January, represents the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research at the centre and celebrates the fundraising achievements of the family.

The Gardiners were also invited to tour the laboratories where they met lead researcher at QMUL, Prof Silvia Marino, who spoke about the latest cutting-edge research into medulloblastoma.

Peter Gardiner said: “I sincerely hope our donation leads to a greater understanding of medulloblastoma and better outcomes for children with this terrible condition. We feel tremendous guilt that despite all the enormous support and fundraising we received from our local community, and all the treatments we pursued to try and keep him alive, we still failed Ollie.

“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. The sad fact is that much more research is needed to find a cure.”

Sue Farrington Smith MBE, chief executive at Brain Tumour Research, said: “The tragedy of Ollie’s story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age.

"What’s more, less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers, and we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.

“Brain Tumour Research is indebted to the Gardiner family for their incredible support in funding the fight against brain tumours. Together we will make Ollie’s light shine even brighter.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To make a donation, go to www.braintumourresearch.org/donate