Emotional day for family as new research facility named after West Norfolk mum is opened

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A pioneering research facility, which was named in memory of a West Norfolk mother, was officially opened in Cambridge yesterday.

The laboratory at the city’s Addenbrookes Hospital, named after Lisa Wiles, has been funded through the work of the Red Wellies charity set up in her name six years ago.

Lisa’s parents, Mervyn and Rosalie, presented a further £60,000 to the unit yesterday morning.

And Mervyn also cut the ribbon to formally open the facility.

Mervyn said: “Today is a very emotional day to see all the equipment in the lab that has been made possible by our generous supporters and the hard work of everyone involved with the charity.

“Lisa would be very proud that this lab, funded in her memory, could improve the outcomes of people with brain tumours.

“Funding for research into brain tumours falls way behind many other cancers and that is why we started Red Wellies – to help other people and ensure Lisa’s legacy lives on.”

Lisa, who was 42 when she died in 2011, had initially responded well to treatment but died from a more aggressive form of cancer that was able to withstand current treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The new laboratory is next to the hospital’s neurosurgery operating theatres and will particularly look at glioblastomas, the type of tumour Lisa had, with the aim of identifying common elements within them that could be the target points for potential new treatments.

Red Wellies has previously donated £50,000, plus another £20,000 provided by an anonymous benefactor, for equipment for the unit.

Although it kills more people under 40 than any other form of the disease, brain cancer accounts for less than one per cent of government spending on cancer research.

And scientists have paid tribute to the charity for their vital contribution to brain tumour research work.

Mr Richard Mair, a clinical lecturer at Cambridge University, who will lead the laboratory, said: “We are hugely grateful to Mervyn and Rosalie and everyone involved with the Red Wellies charity for making this lab possible – it’s an incredible effort.

“We are all inspired and humbled we will be carrying out research in a lab named in Lisa’s honour.”

“The proximity of the lab to the neurosurgical operating theatre makes it unique and ensures that any tissue samples taken are of the highest quality which will aid the research.”