‘We saved each other’: teenager says her pony helped her beat brain tumour

  • A teenage rider who says her pony helped her recover from a brain tumour is organising an equestrian-themed fundraiser to support research into the disease.

    Lily Hawkins, 14, is hosting the event to mark Wear a Hat Day, which takes place across the UK on 29 March to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

    Lily was just six when she began suffering bouts of headaches, balance-loss and vomiting and was diagnosed with a grade one pilocytic astrocytoma tumour.

    She underwent two operations to remove the mass, and continues to have MRI scans to monitor the 1% of the tumour surgeons had to leave behind.

    The Buckinghamshire GCSE student is now organising the fundraising event at her grandmother Val Guse’s livery stables in Akeley Wood. The day will involve mounted and non-mounted games, lots of hats on both horses and riders and a raffle.

    Lily said: “My pony Jester means the world to me. He helped me get my balance back after my surgery and he gave me the confidence to help me walk again properly.

    “Before he came to my grandmother’s stables, Jester had a difficult time and there were problems with his behaviour. We’ve been there for each other through such a lot and now have a very special bond.

    “We have spent so much time together that he instinctively knows when my head hurts and will come up to me for a quiet cuddle. I don’t know what I would do without him and, in a way, I feel we have saved each other.”

    Wear a Hat Day was first launched nine years ago and in that time has raised more than £1million for Brain Tumour Research. It is held at the end of March, marking the culmination of brain tumour awareness month.

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    The charity, which has helped establish a nerwork of world-class research centres in the UK, is campaigning to see the national spend on research into brain tumours increased to £30-£35million a year, in line with breast cancer and leukaemia.

    Brain tumours kill more children every year than leukaemia, while also affecting more women aged under 35 than breast cancer but less than 1% of the annual spend on cancer research is currently allocated to the disease.

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