Children gets their hats on for starring role in Brain Tumour Research campaign

Siblings whose mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour are starring in a marketing campaign which will raise funds to help find a cure for the disease.

Gaizka Dickinson Pata, 11, and his brother Endika, six, are featuring in this year’s national Wear A Hat Day campaign by the Brain Tumour Research charity.

The Buckingham boys were among a handful of children invited to take part and their images will be seen across the country as the campaign is launched ready for Brain Tumour Awareness month in March. Like Endika and Gaizka, all the children have either been bereaved by a brain tumour, are living with a brain tumour or have a close family member who has been diagnosed.

The kids, aged up to 13, are donning their best headwear from beanies to cowboy hats, trilbies to Panamas, baseball caps to novelty headpieces, and are asking others to join them for Wear A Hat Day 2019, the UK’s premier brain tumour awareness event. This year, it takes place on Friday 29 March and is expected to smash all records as it marks its 10th year.

Gaizka and Endika’s mum Maria Pata, was diagnosed in 2010, aged 38, with a low-grade meningioma brain tumour when her first-born son was just two. She underwent surgery which was successful in removing the tumour and undergoes annual scans to check there is no regrowth.

Maria said: “I do feel guilty that I have been so lucky, especially when I read the grim brain tumour survival statistics or hear about patient support groups. 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 have got to change this.

“I am so proud of Gaizka and Endika for being part of the Wear A Hat Day campaign. It means so much to my family and me to help contribute towards a cure, so it’s an honour to have them take part. The boys had such a fun time at the photoshoot too and it will be a lovely memento for them to look back on.”

Wear A Hat Day also has the backing of supermodel, businesswoman and brain tumour survivor Caprice who underwent surgery to remove a meningioma brain tumour two years ago. A patron of Brain Tumour Research, Caprice plays a key role in raising awareness of the disease and campaigning for the government and the larger cancer charities to increase national investment in research. Also supporting this year’s fundraiser is Strictly Come Dancing finalist Debbie McGee who lost her superstar magician husband Paul Daniels to the disease three years ago.

Corporate supporters already signed up for the fundraiser include Specsavers, Hobbycraft, and Venture Studios – the latter worked with families across the UK who have been affected by brain tumours to create the stunning portraits used in the campaign.

Also taking part will be hundreds of schools, workplaces, and individuals who will don their hat of choice and hold a whole host of hat-themed fundraising events in support of Brain Tumour Research.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, who lives in Padbury, said: “We are extremely grateful to Gaizka and Endika and their family for helping us to launch Wear A Hat Day 2019. I know that people will be both distressed and inspired to hear the stories of all of these families who, like my own, know the pain of a brain tumour diagnosis.

“We are entirely committed to easing this pain by improving treatment options for patients and, ultimately, finding a cure. 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; Brain Tumour Research is proud to be changing this.

“The sad truth is that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any age and this means the impact on families is enormous. Too many children are losing siblings, parents and grandparents, too many parents are enduring the agony of their child’s diagnosis, and society as a whole continues to bear the burden of increased costs through the NHS, lost taxes, and demands on the benefits system.”

Wear A Hat Day has raised over a million pounds since the launch of Brain Tumour Research 10 years ago and is the culmination of Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March. The big day will see schools, workplaces, families and individuals across the UK fundraising and taking part in fun events to raise awareness of brain tumours and help fund life-saving research.

Funds raised will develop the charity’s network of world-class brain tumour research centres in the UK where scientists are focused on improving outcomes for patients and, ultimately, finding a cure.

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