St Albans garden centre dedicates fundraising year to Brain Tumour Research

Staff at Burston Garden Centre during the Wear a Hat Day event.

Staff at Burston Garden Centre during the Wear a Hat Day event. - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

An amateur footballer’s shock diagnosis inspired a St Albans garden centre to pledge its support to a brain tumour charity.

Burston Garden Centre chose Brain Tumour Research as its official charity of the year after the co-owner's son Shay Emerton was found to have the condition.

Shay Emerton playing football.

Shay Emerton playing football. - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

Shay suffered a seizure whilst playing football in April last year and went into respiratory arrest. Luckily, an anaesthetist playing for the opposition was able to revive him and the 25-year-old, from St Albans, was rushed to hospital where scans detected a grade 2 glioma.

Shay Emerton.

Shay Emerton. - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

He underwent surgery to remove 98% of the tumour but he suffered supplementary motor area (SMA) syndrome which left him temporarily paralysed down his right-hand side.

Shay Emerton after learning to walk again

Shay Emerton after learning to walk again - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

Now on the road to recovery Shay is preparing to run the TCS London Marathon in October with his brother Connor, also in aid of the charity.

Shay’s mum, Dawn Emerton, said: “Shay’s diagnosis came as a huge shock to us all but he has amazed us with his resilience and determination and continues to get stronger each day.

“His experience has made us determined to do all we can to support Brain Tumour Research in order to help improve treatment options for Shay and the many others like him who are facing an uncertain future.”

Most Read

The garden centre has already donated £5 from the sale of every yellow magnolia to Brain Tumour Research, the colour matching the charity’s brand.

In March it supported the charity’s flagship Wear a Hat Day event where staff dressed in hats and charity t-shirts and took to social media to help spread awareness, whilst in April it hosted a make and decorate an Easter hat event, with proceeds going to the charity.

It also teamed up with fellow St Albans garden centre Aylett Nurseries to host fundraising coffee mornings complete with raffles and lucky dips and as part of National Children’s Gardening Week on May 31, Burston will be hosting a children’s pebble decorating event.

As part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, children visiting the centre will have the opportunity to decorate their very own royal crowns and on June 17, during British Flower Week, staff will don flower-covered hats in support of the charity’s Wear a Hat Day with Flowers fundraiser.

One of Burston's managers, Jill Wharfe, said: “We’ve planned lots of events to support Brain Tumour Research and are particularly excited about Wear a Hat Day with Flowers – what could be a better fit than fundraising and flowers?”

Jill Wharfe, manager at Burston Garden Centre, with a yellow magnolia

Jill Wharfe, manager at Burston Garden Centre, with a yellow magnolia - Credit: Brain Tumour Research

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “It’s wonderful to have Burston Garden Centre choose us as its charity of the year, and especially exciting in the run up to Wear a Hat Day with Flowers. We know the team has lots of ideas for fundraising and awareness days for the rest of the year and look forward to seeing them come to fruition.

“We’re also very much looking forward to cheering Shay across the finish line in October and wish him the best of luck with his marathon training.”

To find out more about planning your own Wear A Hat Day with Flowers event, visit