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26 May 2023



26 May 2023

A LOCAL youngster has completed a charity run at the Pirelli Stadium to help raise awareness of a disease that devastatingly took the life of her best friend.

When Kasie Kirby of Burton-on-Trent was struggling to focus in January 2021, her mum never expected to be given the news she had a life-limiting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) brain tumour.

Despite 15 sessions of radiotherapy the tumour kept growing, causing Kasie to suffer stroke like symptoms. She died five months later, devastating her family and best-friend Seren-Grace Warner, 10, of Branston. Since then, Seren has pledged to raise awareness of the disease.

As part of DIPG Awareness Day on Wednesday last week, Seren completed a jog around the perimeter of the Pirelli Stadium pitch to mark the half-way point of her 26.2 Miles in May Challenge in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research.

It’s the third year the young fundraiser has taken on the challenge and she said: “I mentioned to my mum that I wanted to do something for Kasie after she was diagnosed, and thought a month-long challenge would be fun. The first year I did it, Kasie was here to cheer me on throughout the month. Although she is no longer here, I plan to do it every year in her memory.

“So far I’ve already completed more than 28 miles. I’m hoping to reach 40 by the time the month is over. My favourite run so far has been at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. Although there were no crowds, I felt like a superstar being there.”

The girls, who were in the same year at Winshill Village Primary & Nursery School, shared a special bond which continued into Kasie’s illness.

Kasie’s mum, Laura Jones, 37, said: “The pair had a lovely friendship. Kasie was gifted a mobile phone to keep in touch with her friends when she couldn’t attend school. Seren-Grace sent her daily video messages and they always cheered her up. Knowing that Kasie had a friend thinking of her and taking the time to send a message was really special.”

The mum-of-four has also lent her support to the charity to help reach 100,000 signatures on its petition to increase research funding, and prompt a parliamentary debate.

The charity is calling on the Government to ring-fence £110 million of current and new funding to kick-start an increase in the national investment in brain tumour research to £35 million a year by 2028.

The bereaved health care assistant added: “Before Kasie’s diagnosis, I didn’t know anything about brain tumours. The symptoms she experienced could have easily been attributed to something less sinister like behavioural challenges or even a UTI.

“I want to ensure my daughter’s death isn’t in vain. The Government must recognise brain tumour research as a critical priority. Brain tumours are more common than you may think – one in three people knows someone affected by a brain tumour, yet the funding just isn’t there like it is for other cancers.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours since records began in 2002.

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are really grateful to Seren for taking on this fundraising challenge once again, as well as to Laura, for supporting our petition and helping to raise awareness.

“For too long governments have put brain tumours on the ‘too difficult to think about’ pile. Five years after the Government announced £40 million for brain cancer research, just £15 million has been spent. Patients and families continue to be let down by a funding system that is built in silos and not fit for purpose.

“If everyone can spare just a few minutes to sign and share, we will soon hit the 100,000 signatures we need and help find a cure, bringing hope to families whose loved ones have been affected by brain tumours.”

To sign and share the petition before it closes at the end of October 2023, go to

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and 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 the driving force behind the call 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.

To donate to Brain Tumour Research via Seren-Grace’s fundraiser, please visit:

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