A GROUP of friends from London are in training for the Ilkley Half Marathon, to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research, in support of a loved one.

Anna Simpson, 25, grew up in Ilkley. She and three friends, who studied together at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, have signed up for the town’s first ever half marathon, set to take place on Sunday. They’re doing it to raise money for research into brain tumours, after Anna’s sister Pippa Simpson, 20, was diagnosed with an anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma – a very rare form of brain cancer.

Pippa was diagnosed in February this year, one year after doctors discovered she had epilepsy. The diagnosis came following a precautionary MRI scan, after she became unwell during a run with Anna. Since then she has had five hours of neurosurgery to remove the tumour, as well as undergoing a six-week course of radiotherapy.

Anna said: “It goes without saying that the news devastated our family and Pippa’s friends. My university pals and I are aiming to raise at least £1,000 for Brain Tumour Research, as they are the only national charity in the UK, dedicated to raising funds for continuous and sustainable research into brain tumours in addition to raising awareness of the historic lack of funding for research which is vital if a cure is to be found.”

Anna has recruited Sian Iles, Helen Stevenson and Claudia Zwar, to join her on the 13.1-mile run. Anna, who works as a civil servant for Department for International Development (DFID) based in Whitehall, said: “None of us have ever taken on a half marathon before, we are definitely more comfortable stretching for a beer across the bar than stretching our hamstrings on the racetrack!

“We couldn’t think of a better way to raise money to support people affected by brain tumours, particularly since Pippa’s journey to diagnosis started on a run. It will be an especially poignant achievement to complete the first half marathon to be organised in Ilkley, the town where Pippa and I grew up.”

Pippa, a talented singer and music producer, was in her first year of a popular music at Goldsmiths, University of London, when she was diagnosed. She now lives at home in Ilkley and attends Leeds College of Music, where she is studying music production.

Anna added; “Pippa has been absolutely incredible throughout this entire process and she continues to inspire everyone around her with her can-do attitude and resilience. We are also extremely grateful to the incredible NHS and particularly the fantastic team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, nurses and oncologists at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Institute of Oncology at the Leeds teaching Hospital.”

Donate at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ilkleyforpippa