Padbury woman who founded Milton Keynes brain tumour charity steps down following cancer treatment

Sue Farrington Smith described her time at Brain Tumour Research as ‘the most fulfilling years of my life’
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The founder and chief executive of the charity Brain Tumour Research has announced her retirement after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Sue Farrington Smith MBE led the coming together of a number of brain tumour charities to found Brain Tumour Research in 2009, from her home in Padbury. Her passion for the cause came from the loss of her beloved niece Alison Phelan in 2001, just before her eighth birthday.

Now headquartered in Milton Keynes, the charity has become the leading voice of the UK brain tumour community and funds four Centres of Excellence with plans to establish a further three.

Sue Farrington Smith campaigning at WestminsterSue Farrington Smith campaigning at Westminster
Sue Farrington Smith campaigning at Westminster

Sue, aged 65, underwent extensive surgery for low-grade abdominal cancer last year.

She said: “Although I have made a good recovery, I will continue to have scans and it is in the best interest of the charity and its future growth, and for the sake of my family, that I step down.

“I have always committed 100 per cent of my energies to the success of the charity and our vision of finding a cure for all types of brain tumours, but since my phased and now full-time return to work over the last few months, I have realised I no longer have the energy to be able to fulfil this role in the way that I would like and need to.”

She thanked the charity’s trustees and employees plus its supporters across the UK for their dedication and loyalty.

Sue, who described her time at Brain Tumour Research as “the most fulfilling years of my life”, will now take up a new role as a trustee of the charity.

Chair of trustees Wendy Fulcher, who lost her husband to a brain tumour, said: “Neither Sue nor I would have chosen to be part of the brain tumour community. Our roles were unwelcomingly thrust upon us.

“However, in the 20 years that we have stood together fighting to improve options and outcomes for those diagnosed with a brain tumour and their families, Sue has been the staunchest of allies and the fiercest of campaigners.

“Her energy levels have been legendary and her leadership and management of the growth of Brain Tumour Research show just what passion and drive can achieve. I am proud of her legacy and her trailblazing work, which will be continued by the charity, but I am also proud to call her my friend and colleague. She is a one-off and the epitome of a brain tumour activist.”

Brain Tumour Research, which started around the kitchen table of Sue’s family home in Padbury, now employs a team of 60. It is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast, leukaemia, lung and bowel.

Sue was awarded an MBE for services to charity and received her honour from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in 2017.

The charity’s director of finance and operations, Ashley Bailey, will take over as interim chief executive until a new leader is appointed.

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