A charity ball held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in memory of an RAF officer who passed away three years ago, aged 44, has raised thousands to help find a cure for the cancer which killed him.

Known as “Boogie at the Biscuit” because the ball was held at the Biscuit Factory, the glittering event on Saturday 13 November attracted 250 guests who enjoyed a three-course dinner and dancing to a live band. The fun-filled night included an auction run by local auctioneer Alistair Scott which raised in excess of £10,000 for national charity Brain Tumour Research, as well as a raffle which raised more than £4,200. With proceeds from ticket sales and a number of generous donations, the grand total raised on the night was around £18,000.

Charity ball to mark third anniversary of loss of RAF officer to brain tumour
Michael Starring as Ben centre with members of Madhen, credit: James Baker Productions

The fundraiser, previously held on the first anniversary, was organised by chartered surveyor Beth Wright from the Tyne Valley in Northumberland, with the support of close friends, helping to sell tables and gather donations of prizes. Beth lost her husband Wing Commander Kieran O’Sullivan on 15 November 2018 and has since set up a Fundraising Group under Brain Tumour Research’s umbrella. The Group is also called Boogie at the Biscuit and Beth intends to continue to mark Kieran’s anniversary biennially in this way.

Kieran was diagnosed with a grade 2 astrocytoma in 2001, after he lost consciousness at the wheel while driving. In 2002 he underwent brain surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge when his neurosurgeon was able to remove most of the tumour.

Charity ball to mark third anniversary of loss of RAF officer to brain tumour
Wing Commander Kieran OSullivan

In 2012, Kieran was advised that the tumour had returned but chose not to have further surgery at this point, as he knew it would be likely to signal the end of his military career – a career he cherished. Two years later the team at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at University College Hospital London (UCLH) advised him not to wait any longer and he went ahead with a second craniotomy.

Beth said: “I met Kieran two years after he was diagnosed with this awful disease and he told me then that he wouldn’t grow old. At the time, I mistakenly assumed there would be advancements in treatment, meaning he would far outlive his original, stark survival prognosis. Sadly, with just 1% of national spend on cancer research historically being allocated to brain tumours, progression has been too slow and, in the end, Kieran ran out of treatment options.”

Kieran suffered a massive seizure in October 2015, which left him with significant expressive aphasia. He underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy and eventually, in September 2018, he tragically had to give up the military career he loved. He died two months later.

This year on the third anniversary, Beth posted a touching tribute on Facebook to her beloved husband, which read:

“At 17:51, three years ago today, we lost one of life’s characters who filled more in his 44 years than many do in twice as much time on earth. Raise your glasses tonight and make every second count.”

Revellers at Boogie at the Biscuit were entertained by party band Madhen with a guest spot from Michael Jackson tribute artist Michael Starring Ben, with the added comfort that they can come back and do it all again as the next fundraising extravaganza in Kieran’s memory is already booked at the Biscuit on Saturday 11 November 2023.

Charity ball to mark third anniversary of loss of RAF officer to brain tumour

Matthew Price, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, who attended the fabulous fundraiser himself, said: “Kieran’s tragic story is a stark reminder that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any time. With brain tumours killing more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, it’s the reason we remain focused on the fight to find a cure.

“We are very grateful to Beth for organising such a fantastic evening of entertainment. An incredible amount was raised – we really value Beth’s support and the generosity of those who attended the event.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the 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 calling 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 and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To donate to Brain Tumour Research, go to www.braintumourresearch.org/donation/donate-now and share your reason as Boogie at the Biscuit
To read Kieran’s story go to www.braintumourresearch.org/stories/in-our-hearts

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