A BRAIN tumour survivor from Radstock is asking people to wear a hat today and donate to charity.

Today (March 26) is Wear A Hat Day 2021, a day which raises money for Brain Tumour Research.

Rev Andrew Stammers, 47, of St Philip and St James Church in Odd Down, Bath, was given a survival prognosis of just two years after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

But Andrew has celebrated many birthdays since the seizure which led to the diagnosis ten years ago.

He has marked every birthday since his diagnosis with a fundraising challenge, including walking Hadrian’s Wall and cycling from the pier at Weston-super-Mare to Walton-on-the-Naze pier in Essex, raising close to £10,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

Somerset County Gazette: World Hat Day celebrations for man who is surving brain tumour, radstock Andrew Stammers coming down the Mall, Ride London 2017

Andrew said he had no symptoms before his seizure ten years ago, but woke up being treated by paramedics. 

"I woke up in the early hours of 27 March 2011 covered in blood because I had bitten my tongue and with paramedics leaning over me," he said.

"Initially I thought they were burglars, but my wife Suzanne explained that she had called an ambulance and they were taking me to hospital.

“At first, the A&E team thought I’d had a stroke, but I knew enough about the effects of a stroke on a person’s coordination from medical training when I was in the Merchant Navy to be pretty sure that mine was fine.

"A CT scan and subsequent MRI showed a large black, tennis-ball-sized shape in my brain which was diagnosed as a tumour.

“I underwent a scary, awake craniotomy on what was thought to be a low-grade brain tumour and remember being asked to name pictures of things and spell words.

"As soon as I made a mistake the neurosurgeons knew they were getting too close to my speech and understanding sensors."

A few weeks later, Andrew was told his tumour was "aggressive" and likely to grow back in one to two years. So he underwent radiotherapy for six weeks and continues to have scans to monitor regrowth.

“The impact on my family has been enormous," he added.

"I have three daughters ranging from 12 to 21, with Anwyn, the youngest, unable to remember life before Dad had a brain tumour.

“I had to give up my driving licence because of the seizure and having brain surgery and I still haven’t reapplied for it. Instead, I rely on buses to get about.

“I suffer with fatigue and have to be careful not to juggle too many things at once – I remind myself to finish one thing at a time. I also am very aware that I can get quite frustrated at times, especially if I think everyone’s talking too much about a project, rather than just getting on and doing it!

“But from a faith perspective, I am witness to the miraculous. It would have been so easy to accept my prognosis, but instead I have put myself in God’s hands. It’s not always been easy, but I am so thankful I have my family, my house and a job. And, of course, my life.

“In the week of my 10th anniversary, Suzanne and I will be tipping our hats and joining in the fun of Wear A Hat Day for a serious cause, in the grateful knowledge that I continue to defy the odds!”

Brain Tumour Research is inviting people to join in the fun of Wear A Hat Day by donning their best headwear from beanies to cowboy hats, flat caps to Panamas, baseball caps to berets.

Now in its 12th year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £2 million to help fund the fight against the disease. It is one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved brain tumour research awareness and fundraising days.

Melanie Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research said: “It’s so touching to see people are once again embracing Wear A Hat Day, one year on from the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK. We are really grateful to Andrew and his family for raising awareness.

“Our supporters’ dedication in these unprecedented times is genuine and inspiring and we can’t wait to join them in putting on our hats, having some fun and raising money to fund sustainable research that will bring us closer to a cure for brain tumours.

“Just 12 per cent of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years whereas, for cancers such as breast and leukaemia, the figures are 70 per cent and 40 per cent respectively because of greater investment for research in those areas.

“Please join us this Wear A Hat Day – let’s have fun and make a difference.”

You can register to take part at www.wearahatday.org.