Student honours dad by fundraising for vital research

Michael Legg (right) with mum Julie and brother Jamie by the University of Plymouth Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence Wall of Hope

A University of Plymouth student has helped to raise over £2,000 for a charity which funds research into the disease which killed his father.

When Michael Legg, 23, started his BSc (Hons) Computer Science in 2015, he set out to raise £2,740 for the Brain Tumour Research charity. The charity supports sustainable research at dedicated UK Centres of Excellence – one of which is based at the University of Plymouth.

Two weeks after his last day of study, and six years on from his dad’s death, Michael’s fundraising efforts were acknowledged at Plymouth’s Centre of Excellence. Along with his mum, Juliet, and brother, Jamie, Michael was invited to place a tile on the Wall of Hope with each tile representing the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research. 

Nigel Legg, from Sonning Common in Oxfordshire, began to experience balance issues and severe neck pain in early March 2012. By the end of the month, his legs were giving way, he was disorientated and he struggled to keep food or water down. GPs prescribed pain killers and anti-sickness medication until Nigel was eventually referred for an MRI scan in April which revealed a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain cancer. 

Nigel, a software engineer for Three in Maidenhead, immediately underwent surgery to remove part of the tumour but sadly it grew rapidly over the weeks that followed, taking over almost half of his brain. On 10 June, one day before he was due to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Nigel died, leaving his sons, Michael and Jamie, and wife, Juliet.

Low-grade brain tumours

Our team are leaders in the investigation of low-grade brain tumours, which are usually slow-growing and frequently affect children and young adults. Such tumours can be just as devastating as malignant tumours and can bring equally dangerous and debilitating effects to patients by causing neurological conditions including loss of balance, weakness, cognitive problems, poor hearing, epilepsy and personality changes.

Professor C. Oliver Hanemann
Research Lead
Director, Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine

Since Nigel’s death, the Legg family have raised over £6,000 for Brain Tumour Research, through a variety of events including fundraising walks and the charity’s annual Wear a Hat Day event. 

Michael said: 

“Visiting the lab and placing a tile on the Wall of Hope has been a significant moment as I know Dad would be really proud. Vital research is taking place here and it’s extremely important to me that it continues as this is the only way a cure can be found.” 

Juliet, who works as an Information Researcher at Thales in Reading, said: 

“Fundraising for research into brain tumours is a cause extremely close to my heart and I’m so proud of my sons for helping to raise money too. It’s touching that we now have a tile placed for Nigel at both our sons’ universities.”

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. 

According to the Brain Tumour Research charity, less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers. 

Michael Thelwall, Head of Community Fundraising for the Brain Tumour Research charity, said: 

"We are really grateful to Michael, Juliet and Jamie for raising vital funds to support important research into a disease which affects so many people and their families each year. Stories like Nigel’s remind us all that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”

Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence

Around 16,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour. We're working with Brain Tumour Research to improve research and treatment. Brain Tumour Research is an official charity partner of the University and we are one of four universities in the UK working with the charity to improve the treatment and outcomes of brain tumours. Plymouth’s Centre of Excellence specialises in low-grade brain tumours, which are usually benign, slow-growing but ultimately can become malignant. Our focus is to identify and understand the mechanism underlying the development of brain tumours, and explore ways to halt or reverse that mechanism. 

More information about the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence