Remembering St Albans dad of two who died from aggressive brain tumour

Adam Barclay with his fianceé Emma.

Adam Barclay with his fianceé Emma. - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

Panic attacks were diagnosed as the reason why dad of two Adam Barclay suffered unexplained seizures, but this hid the real cause of his symptoms - an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumour which would ultimately kill him.

Adam died on New Year's Day 2016, aged just 27,  after undergoing emergency surgery from which he never regained consciousness. He left behind his children Lola and Parker, who were aged just three years and eight months at the time.

Last week his fiancée and parents visited a research centre where scientists are searching for a cure for the disease.

Emma Barclay, from Watford, and Wendy and Ken Barclay from St Albans were invited to the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London to place tiles on a Wall of Hope in Adam's memory.

Since losing him, his family has raised more than £5,500 - enough to sponsor two days of research for the charity Brain Tumour Research - through a variety of fundraising activities, including Emma abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth in 2017 and the family taking part in the charity’s Walk of Hope in 2016 and 2019.

The family also starred in Brain Tumour Research’s marketing campaign for Wear A Hat Day for Brain Tumour Awareness Month 2020.

Wendy said: “Adam and Emma were due to get married just three months after he passed away. The venue was booked and she had already bought her dress. Instead, she changed her name to Barclay and asked all the wedding guests to an event to remember Adam and celebrate his life.”

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Emma, 30, said: “Adam was the most amazing man and a wonderfully loving father to Lola and Parker. It’s so cruel to think he never got to fulfil his dreams, including taking Parker for his first driving lesson or walking Lola down the aisle, let alone marrying the mother of his children.

“Although it’s too late for Adam, I don’t want other families to go through what we have so it’s some comfort to think that Adam’s legacy is helping to find better outcomes for brain tumour patients in the future.”

Wendy, Ken and Emma were among a select group of supporters given the opportunity to tour the labs led by principal investigator Professor Silvia Marino, and speak to scientists about their work to find a cure for the disease and specifically GBM tumours, before placing tiles on the Wall of Hope.

Each tile represented the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research and celebrates the fundraising achievements of the family or supporter involved. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re really grateful to the Barclay family for their support and hope they inspire others to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research.

“Adam’s story reminds us that just 12.5 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers. We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue. Brain Tumour Research is determined to change outcomes for brain tumour patients and ultimately find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the 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. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To find out more about Sponsoring a Day of research go to