A scientist from Hitchin whose school friend tragically died of brain cancer is preparing to run a marathon to help fund vital research into the disease.

Lucy Ahern, who is now a PhD student studying HIV, met Amani Liaquat in 2011 while they were both pupils at Hitchin Girls' School.

While they went to different universities, they reunited in person after Amani's shock diagnosis of a glioblastoma (GBM) – a terminal brain tumour with a devastatingly poor prognosis of 12-18 months – on her 22nd birthday in April 2020.

Sadly, despite undergoing NHS standard of care and sourcing life-prolonging treatment from Germany, for which her family, with the help of relatives, friends and strangers, raised more than £100,000 in 24 hours, Amani’s tumour continued to grow.

She died in February 2022, six weeks before Tom Parker, lead singer of band The Wanted, with whom she formed a close friendship because of their shared diagnosis. She was just 23 years old and a much-loved supporter of the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Lucy, 26, who now lives in Hackney, East London, will be running the Manchester Marathon in her memory while raising funds for Brain Tumour Research.

She said: “Amani was incredible and I admired her for being so authentic. She was bubbly, wise, had a great sense of humour and was one of my best friends in school.

The Comet: Lucy and Amani at Hitchin Girls' School.Lucy and Amani at Hitchin Girls' School. (Image: Brain Tumour Research)

“We had most of our lessons together and I have lots of fun memories from our science classes. I’ve got a funny picture of Amani standing on the edge of a window sill next to our physics teacher, who we’d somehow convinced to climb up there for a parachute experiment we were doing. Amani could be very persuasive.”

The marathon is being held on Sunday, April 14, two weeks before what would have been Amani’s 26th birthday.

Lucy said: “I think Amani would be very surprised to know I’m running a marathon because I wasn’t very good at PE at school, but I’ve got into it the last few years and now love it. It helps me clear my head and is really addictive when you get into the swing of it.


“Training’s been a bit chaotic. I haven’t followed a training plan per se but I have run regularly and if, when I’ve been out, I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve kept on going. I’ve made sure I’ve done a few half-marathons and a longer 18.6-mile run, so I should be ready for the full 26.2 miles.

“Running a marathon isn’t something I ever saw myself doing, so I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line and being able to talk about it in the past tense.”

She added: “As a scientist, I understand how long it takes to carry out research into a disease, how important the work is and how much it costs, which is why I want to do all I can to support Brain Tumour Research, to help others, like Amani, in the future because no one, especially a young person, should have to go through what she did.”

The Comet: Lucy will be running the Manchester Marathon in memory of Amani.Lucy will be running the Manchester Marathon in memory of Amani. (Image: Brain Tumour Research)

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Amani was a passionate Brain Tumour Research supporter and it cannot be overstated just how many people know about this devastating disease because of her bravery and commitment to make a difference by campaigning and raising awareness.

"Her legacy drives us on to find a cure for brain tumours and it’s a testament to her remarkable character that her friends and family continue to support us in her name.

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the disease since records began in 2002.

"We’re determined to change this but we can’t do it alone. We’re extremely grateful to Lucy for taking on this challenge for us and we wish her the best of luck on race day. Together we will find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the government and 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.

You can support Lucy's fundraising by visiting www.justgiving.com/page/lucy-ahern-1711891623236.