Friends, colleagues and family gathered to remember Tessa Jowell’s “seminal and moving” final speech to the Lords
One year on, mission created in Tessa’s name is announcing progress towards her ambitions for brain cancer patients
On Tuesday 22 January, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission and Tessa’s family hosted a reception to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Dame Tessa Jowell’s speech in the House of Lords. MPs and Peers, friends and family of Tessa attended an emotional and celebrational event.
The event was hosted by her close friend Lord (Charles) Falconer and attended by other former colleagues including Helen Hayes, Baroness (Doreen) Lawrence and Lord (David) Blunkett.
It has been a year since Tessa’s inspirational speech in which she called for ‘greater collaboration’ and the use of ‘adaptive trials’ to give patients access to innovative treatments. She said: “I am not afraid, but I am fearful that this new and important approach may be put in the ‘too difficult’ box.”
Since her speech, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission has been formed to develop a new national strategy for combatting brain tumours. The mission unites professional, patient, charity and government groups to work together to make a tangible change in brain tumour treatment and research.
The mission is chaired by Prof. Richard Gilbertson (Cambridge). Tessa’s daughter and co-founder of ACT for Cancer, Jess Mills, has been closely involved as an advocate for brain tumour patients and has helped shape the mission, ensuring that the objectives meet her mother’s vision.
The Mission announced its first successes during the reception, all which have emerged due to Tessa’s remarkable ability to unite people and her tireless drive for change. At the event the mission:
- Welcomed the recent launch of the Tessa Jowell BRAIN-MATRIX: a ground-breaking UK-wide trial aimed at radically increasing opportunities for brain tumour patients to try non-standard treatments. The BRAIN-MATRIX is being funded with a £2.8m investment from The Brain Tumour Charity and will be led by Professor Colin Watts
- Announced the creation of dedicated neuro-oncology fellowships, to train the next generation of world-class doctors in the UK
- Announced plans to improve the pathway of care for all neuro-oncology patients across the UK, ensuring that all patients receive the same high standard of care
- Revealed plans to attract and train bright scientists, bringing new ideas and people to further grow the brain tumour research community
- Thanked the Government for their pledge of the £40m brain cancer research fund in her honour
- Thanked the Eliminate Cancer Initiative, CRUK, The Brain Tumour Charity, Brain Tumour Research and Brainstrust for their financial support of the mission and investment into brain tumour initiatives
Jess Mills (Daughter of Tessa Jowell) said: “It’s hard to comprehend that it is only a year since Mum’s seminal speech. The daily physical absence of her in my life is impossibly painful – but every day as we work on delivering her vision I feel her leadership guiding and leading us forward, always encouraging us to be more ambitious, courageous and uncompromising in the pursuit of achieving the best possible outcomes. We have achieved an extraordinary amount in just a year and that is just another huge testament to what a giant of leadership she is, even in her passing. As we celebrate all we have done and all that is to come, my heart is full with pride today, as I know Mums would be too if she could see the change we are creating together.”
Lord (Charles) Falconer (Labour Peer and close friend of Tessa Jowell) said: “Tessa’s speech a year ago this week was one of the most special and moving moments I can remember in Parliament. It is fantastic to see that Tessa’s bravery and determination to help other cancer patients is continuing to have an impact, and the launch of the first ever adaptive trial for brain cancer in the UK will undoubtedly save lives in the future. There is much to do, but Tessa would be immensely proud today, and we are all proud of her”.
Dr. Nicky Huskens (Director of the mission) said: “It has been remarkable to see how the mission has evolved over the past few months. I have seen incredible drive and energy from everyone involved and I am particularly pleased with how the charities in this space have come together to realise our ambitions. Tessa’s daughter Jess has given us invaluable leadership and support. She is inspirational to work with.”